Monday, August 28, 2006

Southcom is Gone, WestMinCom is Here!

Major General Eugenio Cedo, commander of Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, top; and Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon, center, and Major General Gabriel Habacon, former Southern Command chief. (Darwin Wee)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 28 Aug) Two decorated army generals were named as commanders of two newly formed military commands in the southern Philippines, officials announced Monday.

Officials said Major Generals Eugenio Cedo and Rodolfo Obaniana were named to head the Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao Commands.

"With these new commands, we hope to crush terrorism and insurgency and bring back peace in our land where citizens can live free from fear from terrorists and insurgents," the Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon told the Mindanao Examiner.

Esperon on Monday formally deactivated the Southern Command more than 30 years after it was formed to fight Moro insurgency in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon relinquished his post on Monday as Cedo, former commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Zamboanga del Sur province, took over as chief of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City. Obaniana will assume his post Tuesday as commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.

Habacon retires on 28 September after serving more than a year as Southern Command chief.

Esperon said the split of the Southern Command will effectively address the insurgency and terrorism problems in the restive region. "We can now operate more effectively because of the two new military commands that will take care of terrorism in Western Mindanao and communist insurgency on the side of the region," he said.

Habacon said the split was purely tactical on the part of the military. "This is purely tactical and operational and the split of the Southern Command into two is a big boost to the government anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign in the southern Philippines," Habacon said.

Brig. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of military forces in Basilan island, is reported to be Cedo's replacement as chief of the 1st Infantry Division.

Cedo said he would meet with his commanders and plan a new strategy to defeat the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo island, where security forces are battling militants. "The Abu Sayyaf is on the run and troops are pursuing them on the island," he told reporters.

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