New PSG chief named

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    BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and VICTOR REYES

    PRESIDENT Duterte has appointed Army Col. Jesus Durante as commander of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said yesterday.

    Medialdea said Durante will replace Brig. Gen. Jose Niembra who has been named commander of the Army’s 701st Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, stationed in Mati, Davao Oriental.

    Niembra, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991, has been head of the PSG since May 2018. He was part of Task Force Davao when the President was still the mayor of Davao City.

    A turnover ceremony is scheduled today at the Malacañang Park in Manila.

    Durante, described as a “full-blooded” Scout Ranger officer, is a member of PMA Class of 1992. He is the commander of the Presidential Escorts Battalion.

    Before his current post, Durante was commander of elite 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion, which was instrumental in the conduct of combat operations against threat groups in Mindanao.

    Durante spent 11 years with the First Scout Ranger Regiment, assuming various positions such as platoon leader, company commander, battalion operations officer, battalion intelligence officer, regiment operations officer, and battalion commander.

    He is a bemedalled officer with 13 Gold Cross medals for gallantry in action and 10 Military Merit medals with spearhead device. He was also a recipient of the PMA Alumni Association Inc. Cavalier Award for Army operations in 2003.

    In 2017, he served with the United Nations Mission in Sudan as a military observer.

    Durante graduated from the naval post-graduate school in Monterey, California in June 2012 with a degree on Masters of Science in Defense Analysis. His thesis, entitled “The Determinants of Conflict in the Philippines,” earned him a special award from the NPS Defense Analysis Department.

    In its website, the PSG said it was under Niembra’s leadership that its equipment and protocols were upgraded to enhance the safety and protection of the President.

    “He has made significant changes in PSG from RFID (radio-frequency identification) access at entry points and constructing of new facilities aligned with the government’s Build, Build, Build program, to usage of bulletproof panel for PRRD (President Duterte) and procurement of highly capable tactical equipment. BGen Niembra has truly upgraded PSG’s security to ensure the safety of the nation’s highest chief executive,” it said.

    The PSG likewise participated in various projects such as cleanup operations along Manila Bay, the Davao coastline, and the Pasig River; medical and dental missions; calamity relief operations; and Brigada Eskwela during Niembra’s time.

    It also organized activities to support to physically-challenged children and protect the welfare of women; promote leadership capacity building for the youth around Malacañang; and engaged in festivities that nourished the cultural roots of troopers and locals.