CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao (MindaNews/01 March)—With 76 days before the May 13 polls, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reshuffled the leadership at the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division with Brig. Gen. Romeo Gapuz taking over Maj. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo.
Ordoyo, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1980, was reassigned as chief of the Southern Luzon Command.
Gapuz, a member of PMA Class 1981, was the assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City before assuming the new post last Wednesday.
The reshuffling came amid the observance of the poll period for the May 13 midterm national and local elections.
Under Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 9385, transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service, which include the military, are prohibited from January 13, 2013 to June 12, 2013.
But Col. Dickson Hermoso, 6th ID spokesman, said the reassignment of the two officers have been cleared with the Comelec main office in Manila.
He said the “request for the reshuffling has been made and granted before the ban on transfer had taken effect.”
Hermoso’s claim could not be immediately confirmed with Comelec officials in Manila.
AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, who initiated the change of command, challenged Gapuz to continue the military’s peace efforts in the region and to ensure the conduct of peaceful and orderly May 13 elections in the area.
Ordoyo told a press briefing that though his four-month stint was short, it was “colorful and that he would treasure the experience.”
He particularly cited the peace caravans, fluvial parade, the security for the historical visit of President Benigno Aquino III at camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the boodle fights between soldiers and MILF fighters, and the “Sports for Peace” as among his cherished moments.
“ I hope the Sports for Peace will introduce more meaningful programs. We want to make sure that while we are at peace, they (MILF) would not think of other things. An idle mind [would likely] house evil thoughts, so its very important if we can provide diversions,” Ordoyo stressed.
Gapuz vowed to continue what his predecessors have done but stressed that new operational procedures would also be introduced.
A new comer in Southwestern Mindanao, he said he will be resilient to learn the dynamics to build confidence measures with the MILF.
He also admitted that the May 13 election would be a big challenge for him.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “ Toto” Mangudadatu, who attended the turnover of command, expressed optimism that Gapuz will continue what his predecessors have started, especially in promoting the culture of peace in the area.
“ I am confident he could be of good service in securing the coming elections because he is not from here,” the governor also said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)