MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Marines commandant Major General Emmanuel Salamat will leave his post to head the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) in Tarlac City, the latest movement in the ongoing reshuffle of key posts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Nolcom is responsible for guarding the country's northernmost territory, including Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the coast of Zambales in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
It is also tasked to guard Benham Rise off the coast of Aurora province. (READ: Reshuffle in key military posts as Año's retirement looms)
Salamat replaced outgoing Nolcom chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tanalgo – also a former commandant of the Philippine Marines – in a change of command ceremony on Monday, September 4.
AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla described Salamat as "principled, idealistic, focused, and determined."
"As a Marine officer, he is well seasoned, battle hardened, and deeply devoted to his troops," said Padilla.
"He will continue the advocacy of the previous commander of Nolcom, who is also a Marine, which is to secure our interest in Benham Rise and protect our borders," Padilla added.
Padilla himself was recently appointed AFP deputy chief for plans (J5), a post he will serve on top of his responsibilities as spokesman of the military.
The reshuffle comes a few months before some top officials of the military are scheduled to retire. AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año is retiring in October.
The other command mainly responsible for protecting the West Philippine Sea also has a new chief. Major General Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr replaced retired Lieutenant General Raul Del Rosario as Western Command (Wescom) chief last month.
In 2014, jurisdiction over Scarborough was removed from Wescom to consolidate the country's efforts to protect the West Philippine Sea under one command. It proved ineffective because of the distance of Scarborough from the other disputed territories. Scarborough has since been returned as responsibility of Nolcom. – Rappler.com