New NOLCOM, WESCOM chiefs named

Published January 18, 2022, 9:43 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has identified the new commanders of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) and Western Command (WESCOM) following the recent and upcoming retirements of senior military officers.

Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr. will be taking the command of the Tarlac-based NOLCOM while Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos will head the Palawan-based WESCOM.

Torres’ appointment was confirmed to reporters by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday night, Jan. 18.

Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr. (Photo from AFP Civil Relations Service)

“Confirmed,” was Lorenzana’s short reply when asked about Torres’ new designation.

Accordingly, Torres’ appointment papers were signed by President Duterte last January 7.

Torres, incumbent commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry “Agila” Division based in Davao de Oro, will replace Maj. Gen. Andrew Costelo, who served as NOLCOM chief in an acting capacity following the retirement of Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. last December 1, 2021.

He is set to oversee all the military operations in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and Philippine (Benham) Rise as NOLCOM chief.

Prior to this, Torres also held various key positions in the AFP including as commander of the Civil Relations Service (CRS-AFP), Joint Task Force Haribon of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) covering Davao City and Island Garden City of Samal; and deputy commander of EASTMINCOM.

His combat and administrative experience were highly recognized with several Distinguished Service Stars, Distinguished Service Medals, Meritorious Achievement Medals, Bronze Cross Medals, and Outstanding Achievement Medals among others.

He is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Makatao” Class of 1989.

Meanwhile, Carlos, the incumbent commander of the Philippine Navy’s Pacific Fleet, will replace the outgoing WESCOM commander, Vice Adm. Roberto Enriquez, who is set to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 years old on Jan. 24.

Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos (Photo from AFP Civil Relations Service)

His appointment papers were signed by Duterte on January 17.

Carlos is expected to bring his naval expertise to oversee all the military operations in the islands of Palawan and Kalayaan, including the disputed Spratly Islands group in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

He is “an experienced ship captain and naval aviator, logistics and procurement expert, and accomplished writer.” He has been in the military service for 32 years.

“His continuing commitment to handle major positions and collateral duties are driven by his strong sense of professional ethics and public accountability,” the AFP Civil Relations Service said.

“His steadfast devotion to duty in various logistics / resource management posts undoubtedly contributed to the realization of the modernization targets of the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” it added.

Carlos is a graduate of the of United States Naval Academy Class of 1989, and is the younger brother of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Police Gen. Dionardo Carlos.

Aside from Torres and Carlos, Duterte also appointed Maj. Gen. Nestor Herico, incumbent Philippine Navy vice commander, as the new Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps ahead of the impending retirement of Maj. Gen. Ariel Caculitan on Feb. 21. Herico is a product of PMA Class of 1988.

Also given new designations were Rear Admiral Rommel Anthony Reyes, incumbent Navy inspector general and member of PMA Class 1989, who will serve as the new AFP deputy chief of staff with the upcoming retirement of Vice Admiral Erick Kagaoan on Feb. 25; and Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, incumbent commander of the Army’s 11th Infantry Division (11ID) and member of PMA Class 1989, who was appointed as the new AFP Inspector General following the retirement of Lt. Gen. Nemesio Gacal last month.