MANILA: When Col. Ramon Zagala took up his new put up on the finish of June, he knew that each day might demand the sacrifice of his life – just like the 1,000 different elite safety males defending essentially the most highly effective individual within the Philippines.
Colonel Zegala grew to become commander of the presidential safety group and senior army aide on June 30, chosen by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who on the identical day took over from Rodrigo Duterte to steer the nation till 2028.
Marcos remembered Zagala, a particular forces member and former army spokesman, from his days as aide-de-camp to President Joseph Estrada – the actor-turned-politician who was ousted in 2001, simply three years previous after taking workplace.
“He informed me he obtained me as a result of he noticed how I defended President Estrada. That I by no means left President Estrada. That I did every thing potential to guard President Estrada,” Zagala informed Arab Information in a current interview.
“He stated he noticed (how) when everybody deserted President Estrada, I did not…He stated he noticed that. And he is aware of he that I’ll defend him too, that I can’t abandon him.
However the appointment twenty years later got here as a shock.
“I did not anticipate it,” Zagala stated. “It’s a privilege to return to proceed a mission that I left behind 21 years in the past… With so many classes realized, so many experiences over the previous 21 years, I’m able to resume this project.”
Zagala is the son of retired Main Common Rafael Zagala, military chief from 1972 to 1975 through the time of Marcos’ father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who dominated the nation for 3 a long time till he was deposed in a preferred rebellion in 1986.
The Joint Service Unit that Zagala now leads is the first company tasked with offering shut safety for the President and the First Household wherever they go – at residence and overseas. Its formation dates again to 1897 when a unit was created to guard the primary Philippine president, Emilio Aguinaldo, from assassination makes an attempt.
“We’re roughly 1,000 folks,” he stated. “It is a distinctive unit. It’s the solely unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that controls different companies moreover AFP.
Together with hooked up personnel from different forces, which additionally embrace the Philippine Nationwide Police and the Coast Guard, the PSG includes greater than 1,800 safety power personnel.
They’re the most effective of the most effective.
“PSG is an elite unit, firstly as a result of the character of the mission is to guard the president. So we all the time select the most effective,” Zagala stated.
“Within the PSG oath, there is a stanza there: ‘When it turns into vital for me to make the final word sacrifice, then so be it.’ So are you able to think about the dedication that has to return from you to have the ability to accomplish this… (to) lay down your life to guard the President… This can be a excessive stage dedication.
PSG leaders by no means let their guard down. All of them know they’re on a mission and are following its calls for.
“There’s by no means a time after we will depart the president. There’s all the time a protecting blanket. Individuals in service do not have time to let their guard down,” Zagala stated. “Essentially the most stress-free factor all we will do might be sit down.”
What makes the duty a bit simpler is the truth that the president is an officer within the armed forces and acquired rigorous army coaching in his youth. He understands and pertains to the duties of his safety workforce.
“He considers himself a soldier,” Zagala stated. “We discuss coaching, the struggles of troopers, the way you endure coaching, and the enjoyable occasions of coaching.”
What poses the best issue in defending it’s its recognition.
Marcos, 64, received a landslide victory in Could’s presidential election, successful practically 60% of the vote, as he promised unity, prosperity and happiness to the 110 million year-weary folks of political polarization and pandemic hardship.
His public appearances drew large crowds through the presidential marketing campaign and have continued to take action since he took workplace.
“He’s a very talked-about president and folks gravitate round him. Being a part of PSG is usually tough as a result of when folks swarm, you do not know (what can occur). However in fact we perceive that the president is liked by the folks. And wherever he goes, he expects to see folks,” the PSG commander stated.
” He’s common ; folks go close to him. And, in fact, lately due to COVID, due to illness and stuff, we simply wish to defend it.
The service requires officers to be utterly neutral and see the president solely because the “chief govt, as our commander-in-chief.”
“No extra no much less. And from there we will do our job nicely,” added Zagala.
“We do not have a look at politics. As a result of if we have a look at this, we won’t be able to do our job. I have to emphasize: we’re not politicians, we’re troopers.
Private ideas and opinions solely come again to them when their service is over.
“However whilst you’re serving, you are simply fulfilling that mission… We see ourselves as non-partisan and we see the president as somebody who must work. And he cannot do his job nicely if he is not secure. And he cannot be secure if we do not do our job nicely.
“He’ll solely be capable to hold the promise of unity, the promise of financial restoration, the promise of prosperity if he’s secure and his thoughts is evident of any ideas of aggression in opposition to him.”
The suspension of political beliefs, full-time availability and vigilance usually are not the one private sacrifices that the leaders of the PSG make to satisfy their responsibility. The engagement additionally comes at the price of a big renunciation of their household life all through the interval of service.
However it is usually within the household that lots of them, together with the commander-in-chief, discover the power to proceed.
The households of PSG officers are the unknown troopers of the power, enjoying a big function when the boys defending the nation’s prime chief have succeeded.
For Zagala, his spouse Nenita has been the primary supply of assist not just for himself but additionally for the households of different members of his workforce.
“We draw our power from them as a result of the job requires assist. And for me, my greatest assist is my spouse and my household. They’re integral to what I’ve achieved,” he stated.
“My spouse, she takes care of… the morale and the well-being of the opposite members of PSG, particularly the wives, the youngsters, she takes care of that.
“She makes certain to do actions for the wives. She watches over them. She makes plans that may profit them… She does it as a result of she is aware of that PSG isn’t just a unit, it is a neighborhood.
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