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Of naval heroes

By Ramon J. Farolan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:32:00 12/07/2009

Filed Under: Maguindanao Massacre, Military

THERE IS ONE TERM THAT HAS BECOME COMMON nowadays in connection with the ongoing investigation of the Maguindanao massacre. ?Treating with kid gloves? is the way some reports describe how the government has been handling the suspects in the massacre.

What is the origin of this term, ?treating with kid gloves??

First of all, ?kid gloves? are made from the skin of young goats or lambs. They are softer and finer than gloves made from other forms of leather and are symbols of elegance and gentility. So the term ?treating with kid gloves? means to be gentle or tactful.

The government has spent millions of pesos on handcuffs. Many policemen have handcuffs attached to their gunbelts. But so far we have not seen them put to use in the current situation. In the aftermath of the Peninsula Hotel siege in November 2007, people, including journalists, were rounded up and handcuffed or their wrists bound by rope or plastic strips by the authorities.

When do security forces use handcuffs or rope to tie up suspects? Perhaps PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa and NBI Director Nestor Mantaring who have been effecting arrests of suspected criminals can provide us with some clear explanation. In other countries, handcuffing of suspects is done not because of the danger or possibility of resistance or flight but as a symbol of the power of the State in the prosecution of wrongdoers.

The opposite term to ?treating with kid gloves? is ?taking off the gloves? this means the application of harsh treatment.

Fifty-seven men and women have been murdered in cold blood with indications that some of the women were raped. A show of force is simply that?just a show. The government needs to take off the gloves if it really means business.

The first acid test for the new martial law administrator, Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, is the visible use of handcuffs on criminal suspects. Otherwise people will continue to believe that ?kid gloves,? gentility and tact, remain the order of the day for allies of the Arroyo administration. Incidentally Ferrer, PMA class 1977, is the son of another PMAyer, Brig. Gen. Arturo C. Ferrer, class of 1951.

* * *

After more than half a century of existence as the Philippine Navy, the organization decided to name existing fleet and marine facilities after its founding fathers and service heroes. Our congratulations to Vice Adm. Ferdinand Golez, the flag officer in command (FOIC), for the initiative which honors the memory of many who have contributed their best efforts in furthering the development of the Navy and adding luster to its glorious traditions. Prior to these changes, naval facilities were assigned geographical names such as Naval Base Cavite, Marine Base Ternate or Naval Station Zamboanga.

While there are more than 20 such facilities throughout the country, let me mention a number of them along with a few lines on the individuals chosen by the Navy to be honored by the proclamation.

Shortly after the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated on June 12, 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree organizing a Department of Foreign Affairs to include Commerce and a Navy. Pascual Ledesma, a ship captain in the merchant marine and a graduate of the Escuela Nautica de Manila, was designated director for the Navy, the first such appointment in the revolutionary government. Earlier, Pascual had served in the ?mosquito fleet? of General Aguinaldo.

Fort San Felipe in Cavite is now Naval Station Pascual Ledesma.

* * *

Commodore Jose V. Andrada was the fourth Filipino to graduate from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. As head of the Philippine Naval Patrol, the forerunner of which was the Off Shore Patrol, Andrada became the first Philippine naval officer with the rank of commodore. He was instrumental in the transfer of its headquarters from Fort San Felipe to Fort San Antonio Abad on Roxas Boulevard.

Fort San Antonio Abad is now Naval Station Jose Andrada.

* * *

Romulo M. Espaldon, a 1950 graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, was the first naval officer to be promoted to the rank of rear admiral. He served as AFP deputy chief of staff and became the first commander of SouthCom in 1976 at the height of the Muslim rebellion. He later was appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Yemen after retirement from military service.

Naval Station Zamboanga is now Naval Station Romulo Espaldon.

* * *

Brig. General Arturo Asuncion of the Philippine Marines is the epitome of the fighting Marine. In combat encounters with the enemy, he won the Gold Cross three times, the only military officer to have won this many, all within a period of 24 months. He perished in a helicopter crash in Basilan in November 1987.

Marine Barracks Zamboanga is now Marine Barracks Arturo Asuncion.

* * *

Commodore Rudiardo Brown, PMA class 1955 and a Marine corps commander, was the youngest AFP general when he died in a plane crash while inspecting Marine units undergoing jungle training in Bataan.

Marine Barracks Manila is now Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown.

* * *

Sgt. Domingo Deluana, Philippine Marines, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor for heroism and gallantry in action against enemy forces in Maguindanao on 30 April 2000.

Marine Barracks Tawi-Tawi is now Marine Barracks Domingo Deluana.

* * *

Navy Yeoman 2nd Class Julhassan Arasain, a Moro, lost his life while rescuing neighbors in Daraga, Albay at the height of supertyphoon ?Reming.? For his act of courage, heroism and selfless service, he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Cross Medal at Malacańang ceremonies on 8 August 2007.

Naval Station Legaspi is now Naval Station Julhassan Arasain.

* * *

Last Friday in ceremonies presided over by Golez, Bonifacio Naval Station (BNS) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, was renamed Naval Station Jose Francisco in honor of the first FOIC of the Philippine Navy, a title which Francisco himself fashioned upon reaching star rank in the organization in 1952.

A graduate of the US Naval Academy, class of 1931, Francisco served as head of the naval organization from Aug. 29, 1949 to Dec. 23, 1961, a period of 12 years during which time he initiated a number of significant programs. Perhaps the most important was the activation of the first Marine Company which became the nucleus of the present Philippine Marine Corps, the elite unit of the AFP that has borne the brunt of combat against secessionist forces in the south.

Francisco was born in July 1909. The renaming of BNS to Naval Station Jose Francisco (NSJF) is a fitting tribute to the Grand Old Man of the Philippine Navy as we mark the centennial of his birth.

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