[PHOTO - President Aquino looks on as incoming Navy chief Rear Adm. Alexander Pama (right) salutes his predecessor, Rear Adm. Danilo Cortez, during the formal turnover of command at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila yesterday. WILLY PEREZ]

MANILA, JANUARY 6, 2011 (STAR) By Alexis Romero -  New Navy chief Rear Adm. Alexander Pama yesterday vowed to implement training programs to enhance the competence of Navy personnel.

“In the area of competence, I would like to pay particular focus on educating and training our personnel in order to equip our sailors, Marines, airmen, seabees and support and maintenance personnel with new skill sets,” Pama said in a speech during the turnover rites the Navy headquarters in Manila.

“This is to prepare them to operate and maintain material assets that are newly acquired or those planned for acquisitions,” he added.

Pama said he will also focus on instilling discipline among members of the Navy and at the same time seek the upgrading of equipment.

Pama assumed his post as Navy chief yesterday in a change of command ceremony led by President Aquino.

Present were Vice President Jejomar Binay; Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Bia-zon, himself a former AFP chief; AFP chief of staff Ricardo David, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, and Cavite Rep. Jose Emilio Abaya, among others.

Pama, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class ’79, succeeded Navy chief Rear Adm. Danilo Cortez, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.

He had held important military positions like Navy vice commander, Navy inspector-general, and Naval Forces Western Mindanao chief.

He was also head of the Task Force Trillium, a joint military and police group formed to address the abduction incidents in Basilan. Pama also served as the commanding officer of six Navy vessels.

David, meanwhile, said the military would conduct a nationwide survey to determine the sentiments of the public toward the military.

He said the conduct of the survey is in line with the implementation of the new internal security plan “Bayanihan.”

The survey may be conducted in areas affected by insurgency and armed conflict like Davao, Caraga, Bicol, Negros, Samar, and Cotabato to determine the military’s weak points.

The plan, which took effect last Jan. 1 and will be in force until 2016, focuses on development projects to address the roots of rebellion.

There were speculations that some ground commanders oppose the new security plan but the military leadership denied this. – With Delon Porcalla

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