GOOD MORNING ONCE AGAIN!
Our GUEST OF HONOR and SPEAKER for today’s commemoration is a MAN OF HONOR and a MAN OF VALOR. He is also considered as one of our country’s living heroes for his heroic combat exploits.
He served as commander of the AFP Western Mindanao Command from June 2019 to August 2020. He served as the former commander of the 6th Infantry Division in 2018, and the Joint Task Force-Sulu in 2017. He was the first Filipino chief of staff of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in 2013 to 2014.
He is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987. He finished his Command and General Staff course at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College and underwent the Executive Course on National Security Administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and is a fellow on corporate governance.
Our guest of honor and speaker is Ranger-trained, Special Forces-qualified, a proficient paratrooper and a skilled scuba diver. He trained in Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defense in Sweden and is a graduate of the Operations Research Systems Analysis course at the US Army Logistics Management College in Fort Lee, Virginia, USA. He completed the Advance Security Cooperation course at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.
He has been a company and battalion commander of Scout Ranger units. He was once Commandant of the Ranger School and Commander of the Civil-Military Operations Group of the Philippine Army. He has other various billets which would require a very long enumeration.
[Deputy Operations and Training Officer of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, Head of the Plans, Policies and Materiel Development Division of the Army Support Command, Chief of the Firepower Division at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, J4, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Executive Officer of the Army Resource Management Office, and the Deputy Chief to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, G7, Philippine Army. He was deployed under the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMISET) as a military observer in 2003 until 2004. He rose through the ranks until he commanded the 602nd Infantry Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division, the Joint Task Force Sulu, the 6th Infantry Division in May 2018, and the AFP Western Mindanao Command in June 2019.]
Now as regards our guest speaker’s highest military award for courage; he was THEN a newly minted Captain in 1995 assigned with the FIRST SCOUT RANGER COMPANY of the PHILIPPINE ARMY, when the platoon he was leading engaged a group of 20 Abu Sayyaf insurgents in Isabela, Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf reinforced their forces as the insurgents were within their bailiwick, until our guest of honor’s platoon was facing approximately 150 enemies. After 2 hours of fierce fire-fight with the insurgents, he sustained two bullet wounds to his right forearm; a third bullet wrecked his rifle. His arm was almost severed; he had to bite his right thumb to keep the arm from falling off, as he kept on giving directions to his men. He then switched to firing left-handed while giving his men directions. The firefight ended after four hours, with the arrival of reinforcements from the SCOUT RANGER COMPANY, and with him being wounded, three more times.
He refused to have his arm amputated and underwent several surgical procedures in the United States. He underwent initial surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii; where he would ultimately spend 10 months therein, undergoing operations and reconstructive surgery. He was then transferred to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent rehabilitation.
He recovered the use of his hand and arm and has remained in active service since then. For his heroic actions in this battle with the Abu Sayyaf insurgents, he was conferred the Medal of Valor in 1996.
Aside from the Medal of Valor, our guest of honor and speaker is the recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Star, three (3) Distinguished Service Stars, the Gold Cross, two (2) Bronze Cross Medals, the Wounded Personnel Medal, several Military Merit Medals and Commendation Medals.
He was recognized as an Outstanding Philippine Soldier in the Combat Category in 1995. In February 1997, he was also awarded the PMA Cavalier Award, the highest recognition given by the PMA Alumni Association Incorporated to an alumnus who excels in his field. He received the Award of Excellence for Public Service from the Governor of his province, Negros Oriental, in 2012.
In February 2019, our guest of honor and speaker received the Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) of the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. as one of the 40 exceptional men and women who have set a worthy example for every Filipino to emulate. In May 2019, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bestowed him the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Legionnaire), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine Government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He is happily married to Madame Edna Sobejana (née Iturriaga) with five children: Mae Suzanne, Mae Suzzette, Sheena Joy, Sean Jayson and Siegfried Joshua.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am most honored to present to you our GUEST OF HONOR and SPEAKER, the only military officer in the whole world who is authorized to render a left-hand salute, LIEUTENANT GENERAL CIRILITO E. SOBEJANA.