Retired Navy Chief Alexander Pama appointed as Undersecretary PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:00

Former Philippine Navy Chief Alexander Pama has been appointed recently by President Benigno Aquino as undersecretary in the office of Malacañang Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. His appointment was signed last May 31, 2013. I learned that he will head the National Coast Watch Council, an inter-agency body created by President Aquino in 2011. I do get updated about him thru our Facebook account. Since the first day we met, we became good friends. He has no pretensions, enjoys mingling with people, and is always smiling. 

Gen. Pama held the rank of vice admiral as commander of the Philippine Navy when he retired last December 21 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.  He was promoted as the 32nd Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy on Jan. 4, 2011 and led the 22,000-strong sailors and Marines of the Philippine Navy.

Prior to his promotion, Gen. Pama was assigned here in Western Mindanao where he was able to get the respect of the local people, government officials, and I surmise even the admiration of his enemies. He is described by subordinates as a “strategic thinker” for overseeing the drive against terrorists in this archipelago part of our country. The media called him an “anti-terror specialist” and an “ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) fighter.”

A seasoned officer, he believes it was not luck but hard work and integrity that brought him to his destiny. “I’m a task master, meaning pag trabaho trabaho, pag laro, laro (when at work, you work, when you play, you play). Give it your all. I don’t take things personally. I may dress my people down but after that, we’re friends,” he said in an interview with Philstar Alexis Romero (The Unsinkable Alexander Pama).

“I don’t know if I should call it destiny. I would like to think I am an instrument of His will. But I’m not saying I’m fatalistic. I work for it,” Gen. Pama says. He adds, “If you resort to shortcuts, you lose your credibility, and more important, the knowledge and experience.”

Pama’s interest in ships started when he was an elementary student in Zamboanga City where the younger brother of his father would bring him to the Navy Port.  Pama recalls. “I mingled with the enlisted personnel of the Navy. They made me their mascot. I did that when I was in grade two until grade five…That started my interest in the Navy.” His family eventually moved to Passi, a town in Iloilo. He graduated from the PMA in 1979 and is a member of the Matapat (honest) class.

Pama was the leader of the anti-terror unit and commander of Navy task groups operating in the critical areas of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. He was also designated as the commanding officer of six Navy vessels, Navy inspector-general, and Navy vice-commander.

Pama’s efforts were not unnoticed as he received numerous military honors and civilian awards, including the Philippine Legion of Honor, five Distinguished Service Stars, two Distinguished Navy Crosses, and a host of others.

Congratulations, Gen. Pama, in your new appointment!

By Dante Corteza