WESCOM VISIT. Defense department officer in charge, Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., meets with ranking officials of the Western Command (Wescom) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Thursday (July 14, 2022). Faustino assured the continuity of all infrastructure projects of Wescom under the TIKAS Convergence Program of the departments of defense and public works. (Photo courtesy of Wescom)

MANILA – Defense chief, Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., pledged to continue all infrastructure projects for the Puerto Princesa, Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom).

"As your new DND OIC (Department of National Defense officer in charge), I assure Wescom of the continuity of all infrastructure projects under the DND-DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) TIKAS Convergence Program," Faustino said during his visit to the Wescom headquarters in Camp Artemio Ricarte Thursday.

"TIKAS" is short for "Tatag ng Imprastraktura para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad".

"We will prioritize mission essential infrastructures in all Philippine-held islands in the Kalayaan Island Group and the West Philippine Sea," he added

During his first official visit to the unit, Faustino met with Wescom commander Vice Adm. Alberto B. Carlos Jr. and ranking officials.

"To reiterate the guidance of our President and Commander in Chief, His Excellency Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shall fiercely but peacefully protect our country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and sovereign rights," Faustino said.

Meanwhile, Carlos assured the DND chief that they would do their best to attain the department’s strategic objectives.

Faustino lauded Carlos and Wescom for their all-out support for the DND.

"With your very snappy commander, Vice Adm. Carlos, we have seen all the efforts of Wescom, and rest assured that we will give you all the support that you need so you can fully undertake your mandated tasks," he said.

Faustino, whose military career spanned 38 years, served as the 56th AFP chief of staff from July 31, 2021 to Nov. 12, 2021.

He also served as acting Philippine Army chief in the same year.

In a turnover activity held on July 1, Faustino pledged to continue the advancement of the country’s defense establishment started by his predecessor Delfin Lorenzana.

He will assume office as DND Secretary on November 13, after the one-year appointment ban on retired military officials. (PNA)