By Francis Wakefield
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — The newly-installed chief of the Philippine Army’s Special Operations Command (PA-SOCOM), said that there is a need to reconstitute forces and conduct training against the ongoing war against terrorism.
Major General Ronnie Evangelista, said the battlefield has evolved from green to urban and even into cyber space, thus the need for them to evolve as well.
“The continuing threat of terrorism is real and imminent. SOCOM is our national maneuver unit, a joint and combined arms of the unit could be the means to address future threats as envisioned during its incipient phase,” Evangelista said.
“At present we need to reconstitute our forces, conduct training and refurbish our equipment as soon as possible since we cannot mass produce SOCOM forces in times of crisis. I cannot do these alone, I need all your support and cooperation,” he added.
Evangelista spoke during the turn-over ceremony held Monday, attended by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) head Dionisio Santiago and other high-ranking military officials.
Last December 2017, the Duterte administration extended martial law in Mindanao for another year due to threats of terrorism.
Evangelista said as the newly-installed SOCOM commander, he is honored to be among extraordinary gentlemen who had led the unit to prominence.
“Utang na loob ko sa SOCOM kung nasaan ako ngayon (I owe it to SOCOM) where I am now. I am humbled to be part of this command, composed of troops with unquestionable courage, determination and patriotism in serving our nation and people,” Evangelista, who was previously chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Command (AFP-CRS), said.
“These virtues were evident during the Marawi siege. It did not go unnoticed by the Filipino people. During my stint as CRS commander, my SOCOM background helped me a lot in our psy-ops effort. We have earned 75 percent approval rating from the public, the highest so far,” he said.
Evangelista replaced Lt. Gen Danilo Pamonag who was designated as Commander, Southern Luzon Command in December 2017.
The Change of Command Ceremony was presided over by General Bautista, with Secretary Lorenzana as Guest of Honor and Speaker.
Evangelista assumed command of CRS in November, 2016 when the post was vacated by Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno who now commands the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Tanay, Rizal.
Prior to his stint as CRS Commander, Evangelista was the Deputy Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City. He became Commander of the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne).
Aside from the three Distinguished Service Stars, Evangelista is a recipient of multiple awards and decorations, such as, Gawad sa Kaunlaran Medals, Bronze Cross Medal and numerous Merit and Commendation medals.
Evangelista is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” Class of 1986.