Rear Admiral Ramil Enriquez takes over the reins of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command, the military unit with jurisdiction over Philippine maritime territory in the West Philippine Sea, on Nov. 24, 2020. Photo by WESCOM

MANILA, Philippines—Rear Admiral Ramil Enriquez on Tuesday (Nov. 24) took over the reins of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (Wescom), the military unit with jurisdiction over Philippine maritime territory in the West Philippine Sea.

Enriquez, deputy chief of staff for reservist and retiree affairs, replaced Lt. Gen. Erickson Garcia, who was named AFP vice chief of staff after the retirement of Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr.

A change of command ceremony was held at Camp Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay was present online from Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP headquarters in Quezon City.

“The Western Command, under my leadership, will continue to perform its sworn duty and constitutional mandate to secure our territorial integrity,” Enriquez said during the ceremony.

“We shall also enhance our nation’s basic sovereign rights. We will continue to be prepared to face any eventuality from foreign foes to disastrous calamities,” he said.

Enriquez, a naval officer, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988.

“Admiral Enriquez is a well-seasoned naval officer, having commanded major, several types of commissioned vessels,” AFP public affairs chief Capt. Jonathan Zata said.

“He distinguished himself not only in naval operations but also in naval intelligence, his leadership acumen or his positive leadership impresses us,” he added.

In his assumption speech, Enriquez said his first official instruction was for “all existing policies and regulations to stay in effect unless there is a reason to change them.”

He vowed to make a “harmonious relationship with all stakeholders” as he takes over at “one of the most deciding and challenging times to be part of team Wescom.”

As Wescom commander, Enriquez will oversee the country’s western frontier including Philippine maritime territory in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.

He will assume leadership as China continued to aggressively enforce its mythical nine-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. He will also be at the helm of protecting oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea following President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift a ban on such projects. His assumption also came during the pandemic.

Edited by TSB

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