Sara Duterte grateful for separate unit to secure vice president

Sara Duterte grateful for separate unit to secure vice president
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Andres Centino leads the activation ceremony of the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group on June 25, 2022.
Armed Forces of the Philippines / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:30 p.m.) — Vice president-elect Sara Duterte thanked the military for acting on her request to create a separate protection unit for vice presidents of the Philippines, which she said would keep the second-highest official in the country safe in case of strained relations with the president.

Protection for the vice president previously came from a detachment of the Presidential Security Group, a composite unit with personnel from the military, police and coast guard.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines activated the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group on Saturday, days before Duterte replaces Vice President Leni Robredo as vice president.

Duterte later Saturday thanked the defense department and the military for granting her request for an "independent group" that will "resolve the matter of continuity in security for all vice presidents of the Philippines."

Duterte added the separate unit would "be expected to solve the challenges if, in future elections, the vice president and the president face the misfortune of having strained relations." 

Gen. Andres Centino, AFP chief of staff, said in a separate statement on Saturday that the military "saw it fitting to provide the Office of the Vice President a dedicated unit that shall ensure the safety and security of the second-highest elected official in the country."

The new unit will be headed by Lt. Col. Rene Giroy, previously of the PSG.

AFP spox appointed as PSG chief

Meanwhile, Col. Jorry Baclor — AFP Public Affairs Office chief — told reporters on Sunday that military spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala will be the next acting commander of the PSG that will secure President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

As PSG chief, Zagala would lead efforts to provide 24-hour protection to the president and his family along with high-profile visitors who visit the Philippines.

Zagala is the son of Maj. Gen. Rafael Zagala, a former commanding general of the Philippine Army during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Zagala will begin his duties once Marcos Jr. assumes his post this week. He will be taking on the post from Col. Randolph Cabangbang, who led the unit in the last year of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte's term.

However, according to a report by ABS-CBN News, the official order detailing Zagala's new appointment is yet to be issued. — with report from One News / Julie Baiza



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