Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. (right) leads the donning ceremony for Commodore Luzviminda Camacho at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
Philippine Navy has first female commodore
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time in the history of the Philippine Navy (PN), a female member has been promoted to star rank, equivalent to a brigadier general.

Capt. Luzviminda Camacho received her first star during yesterday’s donning of ranks at Camp Aguinaldo, where she serves as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Office of Legislative Affairs (AFP-OLA).

“She made history as the first female commodore in the Philippine Navy,” Capt. Jonathan Zata, AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief, said.

Camacho, who entered the service through the Navy Officers Candidate Course (OCS), was the first woman officer in the Navy to command a navy warship, following a series of sea duties that included serving as engineering officer of a naval gunboat.

She was the first female commander of a contingent of Filipino peacekeepers sent by the government to Haiti.

Camacho joined two other senior military officers who were also promoted to the next rank yesterday.

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant general was Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander  the Cebu-based Central Command (Centcom).

Brig. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service (CRS), was promoted to major general.

“The promotion of generals and senior officers in the military signified the advancement in their career as soldiers. it also implies bigger and more crucial responsibilities that they have to carry toward the attainment of the AFP’s mission,” Zata said.

Decommissioned

Meanwhile, the Navy is decommissioning today two of its warships as part of the continuing cleanup of the so-called legacy ships from its inventory.

To be decommissioned are the patrol gunboat BRP Nicolas Mahusay and patrol ship BRP Rizal. The Navy has been operating these warships since before the Korean war.

PN fleet commander Rear Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the two World War 2 ships have outlived their naval capabilities and have become too costly to operate.

The BRP Rizal has a designed speed of 20 knots and sea endurance of 20 days. At present, the ship could only sail at 10 to 12 knots with a sea endurance of seven days.

The BRP Nicolas Mahusay is an interdiction ship with a speed of 25 to 30 knots. It has outlived her usefulness as her speed is now down to 14 knots.

“These are the reasons. The two ships have outlived their usefulness as they could no longer perform the missions that were designed for them to perform,” Bacordo said.

The Navy has started phasing out its legacy ships in preparation for the arrival of newly acquired, brand-new warships, including the first-ever missile capable BRPs Jose Rizal early this year and Antonio Luna later this year or early next year from South Korea.

Aside from these warships, the Navy is operating the Pohang class corvette BRP Conrado Yap, a decommissioned South Korean warship donated by Seoul to Manila.

The Navy is planning to acquire more decommissioned Pohang Class corvettes from South Korea.

“We are modernizing. If you modernize, you have to remove from the inventory all the legacy Navy ships to change the mindsets of our personnel,” Bacordo said.

Aside from Nicolas Mahusay and Rizal, the Navy is still operating legacy ships such as patrol craft escorts, landing ship tanks, mine surface frigates and other smaller diesel-fed vessels.

LUZVIMINDA CAMACHO
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