MANILA -- Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado was formally relieved from his post effective Tuesday.

This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) acting spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo.

He added that the instruction to relieve Mercado, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, came from higher authorities and it was implemented by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad, a member of PMA Class of 1986, was named acting PN chief.

Arevalo said that Mercado was assigned to the Office of the-Chief-of-Staff, AFP on Special Duties.
"The reason for this change-of-command will be explained in due time," he added.

As this develops, PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said that the Navy as a professional organization always follow a lawful order from the chain of command.

"With the change of command ceremony this morning, the Philippine Navy extends its gratitude to Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S. Mercado AFP, for his dedicated service rendered as the Flag-Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy," he added.

“On the reason of his relief, I am not privy with the decisions and/or other issues at hand hence I could not give you a definite answer. I defer your questions to higher authories. But rest assured the Philippine Navy has a lot of competent and qualified leaders to assume as Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy. Thus, today, we welcome and honor former Deputy Chief of Staff for Retirees and Reservists Affairs, J9, Rear Admiral Robert A. Empedrad AFP as the Acting FOIC, PN effective today December 19," Lincuna stressed. (PNA)