Velarmino named ‘temporary’ head of elite Army unit

By Dennis D. Estopace, Business Mirror

Posted at Jan 20 2013 09:21 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2013 05:21 AM

 MANILA, Philippines -- The leader of the team that captured the kidnappers of an Italian priest nine years ago will temporarily head the Special Operations Command (Socom) of the Philippine Army.

A statement from the Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office said Brig. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino is appointed to head the elite forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Velarmino will be replacing Maj. Gen. Romulo Bambao, who is set to retire from the military service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

“Velarmino will hold the post in an acting capacity while awaiting the designation of the permanent commander.”

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the newly appointed AFP chief, will preside over the turnover rites at the Socom Headquarters in Fort Magsaysay on Monday.

Prior to his appointment, Velarmino was the deputy commander of Socom. He also served as commander of the 101st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division in Mindanao.

Velarmino was reported to have headed the security forces who captured kidnappers of Giuseppe Pierantoni in Zamboanga del Sur in April 2002.

He also became the chief of staff of the 1st Infantry Division (ID); Inspector General, 7th ID; defense attache to Malaysia and inspector general, Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Velarmino also commanded the 51st Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division for two years.

Early on his career, he led the 12 Special Forces Company, Special Forces Regiment Airborne (SFRA) which was deployed in Mindanao. After which, he became the Intelligence Officer and Operations Officer of the 6th Special Forces Battalion, SFRA in the Visayas and eventually commanded the said battalion in 1996.

Velarmino, 52, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982 (Sandigan).

Organized in 1978, the Socom congregates Army’s elite forces: the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), the First Scout Ranger Regiment, and the Light Reaction Battalion.