It is often said that one should not go to battle unarmed. In the long-drawn fight against COVID-19, knowing which tools to wield in response is critical: Rear Admiral Alberto “Abet” B. Carlos has thus chosen prudence, expertise, and effective leadership.
These are the qualities which he exercises daily as the current Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (J4) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as Chairperson of the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committees for the Frigate and Anti-Submarine Helicopters Acquisition Projects. These are the same qualities he was recognized for as a 2014 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Soldier and 2019 Metrobank Foundation Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) recipient.
At the helm of AFP’s arm for logistics, RAdm Carlos’ role is critical in the ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic as major aspects are anchored on logistics—from procurement and distribution of supplies and equipment to inter-agency coordination. At the center of all these massive and interconnected operations is the J4 team.
“I have reached a position in the AFP that made me realize that the quality of my decisions and actions can affect the way my organization reacts to unprecedented challenges,” he shared. “The kind of direction, pace, planning, preparation, and due diligence that I exact on myself and those I work with has a direct impact on the situation on the ground.”
Bolstering the government’s response capacity
COVID-19 presented a unique scenario that required new strategies, resources, and logistics requirements. With RAdm Carlos’ leadership, the J4 team took charge of the swift procurement of supplies, without which majority of response initiatives will be paralyzed.
“We had to act in haste but not in panic. Our soldiers are being deployed and we need to make sure that they are protected. We cannot simply ask them to compensate the lack of protection with pure grit and courage, which is not a rare commodity in the AFP. We need to protect them so they may protect the most vulnerable members of the community without disruption,” shared RAdm Carlos.
The J4 team’s duty covers logistics and transportation support as its contribution to the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTFNCR). They mobilize troops to perform the unconventional task of transporting medical professionals and facilitating the acquisition, acceptance, and distribution of medical supplies to hospitals and quarantine facilities.
Part of this is Libreng Sakay, an initiative devised to transport health care providers, food and sanitation industry workers, military personnel and other front liners from their places of work to their homes and back. The J4 team sourced several buses that went to and from major hospitals in Metro Manila which helped ferry over 16,000 passengers.
Further, RAdm Carlos’ team spearheads the efforts of the Sub Task Group Logistics under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). They handle demand and supply projections, allocation and delivery scenarios, and inter-agency collaboration.
The J4 Team provided transportation and fuel requirements related to setting up more than 80 quarantine facilities and allocated additional funds to transform a five-storey condominium building into a quarantine facility.
Additionally, as the AFP’s top logisticians, members of the J4 Team were tapped by the IATF to take a lead role in the Task Group on the management of returning overseas Filipino workers to help bring their kababayan home safely.
DOH’s ally in service
The Department of Health (DOH) needed reinforcement to face an unprecedented national emergency; RADm Carlos’ team came onboard to help.
The J4 team provided DOH more and bigger warehouses for storage of medical supplies, which also serve as a center for distribution and monitoring. They also took charge in sourcing the needed vehicles—117 military trucks—deployed to the DOH warehouse for distribution purposes.
Moreover, they offered extra pairs of hands to haul and distribute donated and procured items. The increase in the flow of these crucial provisions meant more front liners can perform their duty and help more Filipinos.
Ready to respond whenever, wherever
RAdm Carlos believes that an organization’s good practice defines its capacity to respond to any eventuality. The J4 team sets an example of how preparation and prudence spell a substantial difference in addressing a crisis.
Long before the pandemic broke out in the country, the J4 team had always made sure that the AFP has adequate and readily accessible resources should uniformed personnel be called to action.
As a prelude to COVID-19 response, RADm Carlos led the J4 in resource management for POL (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants) of the AFP.
“How far and how long an operation can be sustained is dependent largely on the amount of POL that can be accessed throughout a military campaign. POL is the bloodline that enables troop movement and the critical transport of supplies,” emphasized RAdm Carlos.
With his supervision, the J4 generated a significant amount of savings on POL totaling more than PhP 380 million. Apart from this, RAdm Carlos was able to preposition in strategic areas around the country a total of 400,000 liters of gas and 1 million liters of diesel with an estimated value of PhP 65 million.
Fast forward to 2020, these measures made it possible for the AFP to swiftly respond and operate without downtime during the pandemic.
As he continues to lead his team during this crisis, RAdm Carlos believes there is much to be done for the Filipinos. He says, “achievements are good only if we apply them to actions for the greater good of the nation and the people we serve. Every serviceman of the AFP is giving his best, but this war is not just ours to fight. We have to work together to defend ourselves so that, very soon, we can reset the time, make the world turn again and go out and enjoy the life and liberties we once had.”
Through his example, RAdm Carlos hopes to bring to light the dedication of the military during this pandemic; that when the situation calls for it, one faces the challenge head on and inspires others to do the same.