MANILA, APRIL 16, 2009 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo has appointed TV host and former actress Cecil Kristin “Baby” O’Brien as press assistant secretary and former monsignor Crisanto de la Cruz as presidential assistant for Western Mindanao.

O’Brien was a consultant to then Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes in 2005. She also worked as consultant for various anti-drug campaigns of various government offices.

O’Brien co-hosted the television show “Dance-O-Rama” with the late Pete Roa in 1962. She is the daughter of actress Sigrid von Giese, more popularly known as Paraluman. O’Brien is also a former Miss Pink Camay Girl.

O’Brien has been hosting the programs “People’s Government Mobile Action or PGMA” and “Serbisyo Muna” at the state-run television channel NBN-4.

De la Cruz, on the other hand, left the priesthood when he ran for mayor of Zamboanga City in 2007 after founding the Nuevo Zamboanga Movement party.

He was supposed to run under ruling party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats but the administration supported Celso Lobregat instead.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde also announced the appointment of Chief Government Negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Rafael Seguis as concurrent special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Filipino comics writer Jose Santos was appointed full-time commissioner and concurrent chairman of the Commission on the Filipino Language, for a term that will expire in January 2013.

Also appointed was Lily Rosales as acting chair of the Board of Guidance and Counseling of the Professional Regulation Commission.

Ibrado named AFP chief; Bangit gets Army By Jaime laude and James Mananghaya Updated April 15, 2009 12:00 AM

[Photo AT LEFT - taken last March 23 shows Army chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado trooping the line during the 112th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig. MANILA, Philippines]

Army commander Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado is the next Armed Forces chief and Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit will replace him as Army commander.

In announcing the appointments, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said President Arroyo picked Ibrado and Bangit upon the recommendation of the Board of Generals.

“The President has instructed me to announce the designation of Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado as successor of Gen. Alexander Yano,” he told reporters.

At Malacañang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Ibrado’s appointment as Armed Forces chief is not a return to the “revolving door” policy, where appointment to the top military post was given to as many officials as possible resulting in short tours of duty.

“The announcement was made so that both gentlemen (Ibrado and Yano) can prepare for the next steps and so that there would already be a smooth transition in the Armed Forces,” he said.

“This is not a revolving door policy but this indicates the professionalism and stability of the Armed Forces.”

Born in San Jose, Antique, on March 10, 1954, Ibrado will serve for nine months as Armed Forces chief or until March 10, 2010.

Ibrado will assume command of the Armed Forces upon the retirement of Gen. Alexander Yano on June 13 this year.

Ibrado was a classmate of Yano and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa in Philippine Military Academy Class of 1976.

Bangit belongs to PMA Class of 1978, like Metro Manila police commander Roberto Rosales, and served as Mrs. Arroyo’s security officer.

In a phone interview yesterday, Ibrado vowed to push the military’s capability upgrade program to enhance its material readiness against national security threats.

“First, I am thankful for the trust and confidence given to me by the President to occupy such a sensitive position,” he said.

Mrs. Arroyo has already informed him of the appointment, he added.

After graduating from the PMA in 1976, Ibrado joined the Army Special Forces.

He served as operations and training officer of the Presidential Security Group; chief of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division in the Visayas; and commander of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Group.

Ibrado also commanded the Ground Warfare and the Support Group at the PMA, and served as Army deputy chief for intelligence, deputy chief and commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros.

Ibrado was also commander of the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) before assuming command of the Army’s Special Operations Command in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The SOC has control over the Scout Rangers, and the US-trained counter-terrorist unit, the Light Reaction Battalion.

As Centcom chief, Ibrado had command over Army, Air Force and Navy units in Western, Central and Eastern Visayas.

Ibrado took courses in Scout Ranger’s airborne and jumpmaster, special forces operations, intelligence officers course, infantry officer advanced and intermediate operations.

He is a recipient of five distinguished Service Stars; a combat commander’s “Kagitingan” badge; two Outstanding Achievement medals, five Bronze Cross medals, 19 military merit medals; 10 military commendation medals, and other medals.

Other Ibrado classmates occupying key positions are Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Isagani Cachuela; Vice Adm. Leonardo Calderon, PMA Superintendent; Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga, Western Command chief; Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang, AFP deputy chief of staff; and Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Ferdinand Golez.

Enrile, Lacson laud Ibrado

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Panfilo Lacson welcomed yesterday the appointment of Lt. General Ibrado as the next chief of the Armed Forces.

“He deserves it, he’s a highly respected military officer,” Enrile said.

Lacson said it was good that Ibrado was chosen over Bangit, current head of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, because that way, nobody would feel bypassed by a junior officer.

“He’s (Ibrado) more senior than Bangit,” he said.

“He became lieutenant general first and commanding general of the Philippine Army. Historically, the commanding general of the Philippine Army becomes chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“I don’t know him personally except, of course, that we are both PMAers. But I know he is a professional soldier all throughout his military career. So he is a very good choice.

“Aside from the fact he belongs to Class ’76 and Del Bangit belongs to Class ’78, there will really be a lot of suspicions that if he (Bangit) jumps (to being chief of staff), considering (President Arroyo) is an adoptive (member) of Class ’78.”

Lacson said he could not see Ibrado facing any problems before the Commission on Appointments.

“I’m eager to move for his confirmation,” he said.

Enrile is a former defense secretary, while Lacson is a retired PNP chief. – With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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