Pajarito restires, new commander takes over Tabak Division

Pajarito was proud to have ended his term of service with dynamic military operations in quelling “enemies of the state” such the Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and against members of the communist New People’s Army. In his last speech in the AFP, he professed: “We are on the right track.”

In spite of the presence of logging concessionaires in the Zamboanga peninsula as guests during the turnover rites, Pajarito stressed his command’s “continuing commitments for the preservation of the environment by forbidding illegal logging and illegal fishing.”

Pajarito, an alumnus of Mindanao State University in Marawi City, has spent 15 years in Mindanao in his military career.

The general said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. “I will then have more quality time to my other army composed of one squad — my wife and my eight children,” he said.

“But if you need me, I am just a text away,” he told his soldiers.

Lustestica, who earlier served the Tabak division as an operation officer and was part of Task Force Trident that worked for the rescue of the Sipadan hostages, said filling Pajarito’s shoes is a big challenge for him. “Equaling his achievement is a challenge and surpassing them is daunting for me,” he said.

Lustestica expressed that “the Army is duty bound to uphold the primacy of the peace process.” But he stressed that the military will continue to run after groups who have abandoned peace, such as those of Kumander Bravo and Aleem Sulaiman Pangalian. “Punitive action will continue against them to serve justice to the communities … who suffered horrendous carnage in those attacks,” he said, referring to the attacks on civilians August last year.

“The same mindset will be enforced on members of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, who sow terror to their fellow men,” he said.

Lustestica said, too, that “military adventurism will never be tolerated under my command.”

He stressed that the Army will only win if it is supported by interagency partners like the police, academe, local government units, religious leaders and civil society.

Lt. Gen. Victor S. Ibrado, commanding general of the Philippine Army who graced the occasion, lauded Pajarito as a “combat fighter and quick to deliver artillery shots to enemies.”

Ibrado said that Pajarito is the dean of all division commanders because he has been in this position the longest.

“My snappy salute for ending a successful military career,” Ibrado said.

Ibrado awarded a medal and a plaque of merit to Pajarito, also giving him a Philippine flag. (Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)