Gen. Sobejana: Trust the AFP


When it rains, it pours. This oft-repeated adage may as well apply to one of the illustrious sons of Negros Oriental, the current Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

In a span of just two months, he was honored twice by his beloved province, first by Zamboanguita, his hometown, and now, by the province of Negros Oriental itself.  In 2012, he was likewise awarded the Most Outstanding NegOrense in the field of public service.

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and his wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, presented the plaque of commendation to Sobejana in a ceremony held on May 14, at the Provincial Convention Center. 

Sobejana was accompanied by his wife, the former Edna Iturriaga, a native of Negros Occidental, in receiving the award. Also present was his mother, Eustaquia Elola-Arado, who was similarly given a plaque of commendation by the provincial government, for “raising a son well who would, eventually, bring pride and honor to his home province.”

Earlier that day, the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army held arrival honors for the commanding general at the Capitol Forecourt.

In compliance with the protocols prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease on mass gatherings in areas under Modified General Community Quarantine, the program was reduced to the actual awarding, delivery of few speeches, and short photo opportunities.

In his speech, Degamo highlighted how the AFP chief is worthy of admiration. “His story as a boy with humble beginnings from Zamboanguita who rose to become a professional soldier, a competent military leader, is truly worthy of our highest recognition and commendation,” Degamo said.

“General Sobejana was a favored son of Negros Oriental, as tucked in his belt are the many firsts in military service: the first and only NegOrense soldier who received the highest military honor – the medal of valor, the first Philippine Army commanding general from Negros Oriental, and the first Chief of Staff of the AFP coming from this province,” Degamo added.

The governor also noted that the young people in the province can get inspiration from the general in achieving excellence in their studies and in embodying dedication, commitment to their aspirations, patriotism, and respect for human rights.

Sobejana thanked the provincial government and the people of Negros Oriental for the said commendation. “Thank you for choosing me as a NegOrense awardee — an award of recognition that I will never forget and, in fact, will further motivate me to do more for our country and our people,” he cited in his speech.

He also assured that the public can continue to trust the AFP. “You can count on the Armed Forces in Negros Oriental. I am very glad that the AFP is well represented with the able leadership of Col. Leonardo Peña and with the support of the battalion commanders,” Sobejana said.  Peña is the commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Negros Oriental.

Sobejana also took the opportunity to re-echo the call for convergence among government agencies in addressing issues related to insurgency.

“I do believe that security is a shared responsibility. Your Armed Forces alone cannot put an end to the menace of insurgency and terrorism because, as you see it, there are a lot of factors or reasons why we have these security problems. One of these is economic reason. Second, is the injustice. Third, of course, is illiteracy. Fourth, is oppression, and a lot others. These things are not within the purview of the Armed Forces,” he said.

“There is really a need for us to converge our efforts so that we can improve to the best,” he added.

Sobejana said he is personally monitoring the peace and order status in Negros Oriental and has instructed the Philippine Army to converge their efforts and establish a seamless working relationship with the army’s counterparts in civil government.

He emphasized that true peace and progress can be achieved if there is strong collaboration with all sectors of society. – NWI