Romeo C. Espino
explosive revelations regarding their mission soured diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Malaysia, and also resulted in the relief of General Espino
who was then the Army commanding general.
was out of the loop as far as "Jabidah" was concerned, like a true soldier, he
accepted in silence, the fallout from the ill-starred affair.It was the classic case of command responsibility.
After a brief period in the wilderness, he
was restored to office as the vice chief of staff and when Gen.Manuel Yan retired on Jan. 15, 1972, Espino was designated AFP chief of staff.
...Espino served in this post from Jan. 15, 1972 to June 15, 1981-nine years and six months-the longest tour of duty of any AFP chief and spanning one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the Armed Forces and the nation.
When martial law was declared on Sept. 11, 1972, Espino
, the UP ROTC graduate, became, in theory if not in practice, the country's martial law administrator.
Some people have wondered why Espino
had such a long tenure as head of the Armed Forces
The main beneficiary for this indecision was Espino
was basically a foot soldier, a graduate of the Infantry Course
, General Service School
in Baguio City in 1941, and the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia
, in 1945.But he
must have been a frustrated aviator because every chance he
had to take to the air as a passenger was also an opportunity to be in the cockpit handling the controls.His
personal pilot who flew him throughout his
stint as chief of staff was Brig.Gen.
...Not many people know that in 1975, Espino led a group of AFP personnel who landed on the main island of the Spratlys to strengthen our claim to the area.Flying in on an Albatross seaplane for two and a half hours at night and landing in treacherous waters just as daylight broke, he transferred to a small boat to reach Pag-asa, the first chief of staff to set foot on the island.
* * *
retirement speech on June 15, 1981, he
declared that among all his
numerous medals and decorations (among them were six Distinguished Service Stars, the Philippine Legion of Honor, the US Legion of Honor, both in the rank of Commander, the Gold Cross medal), the one he
cherished most was the Wounded Soldier's Medal, the Philippine equivalent of the US Purple Heart, which he
also received for the Bataan campaign.
Last Feb. 17, the old soldier who started his
career with an agriculture degree from the University of the Philippines Los Ba¤os faded away at the age of 88.