MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 11 Feb) – Col. Ferdinand T. Barandon, of Philippine Military Academy “Sambisig” Class ’91, assumed as the new commander of the 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade during change of command rites at the Army headquarters here Monday.
Barandon is the 30th commander of the 403IB, replacing Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, who completed his 15-month tour of duty and now assigned at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces as deputy chief-of-staff for civil-military operations.
Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, in his speech during the turnover ceremony, lauded the two officers.
He cited De Leon’s combat and non-combat accomplishments.
“The relentless and sustained focused military operations, community support programs and law enforcement support operations that De Leon spearheaded resulted to the clearing of numerous conflict-affected barangays, neutralization of communist terrorist groups and supporters, the capture of several assorted firearms and surrender of New People’s Army key personalities,” Gacal said.
Among the NPA leaders who surrendered, he said, were the couple Reslin Pardo alias “Jamby” and Renante Tumbalang alias “Jigger,” of Guerrilla Front 6, which he said used to be the strongest guerrilla front in Bukidnon.
Gacal said De Leon was instrumental in the establishment of the Convergence of Areas for Peace and Development(CAPDEV) program and the creation of the Regional Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTFELCAC) in the municipality of Cabanglasan.
The 4ID chief expressed his full trust on and capability of Barandon to sustain the gains of the brigade under De Leon.
He reminded the new 403IB commander to “hit them hard” if the rebels would not surrender but also offer a hand to those who want to return to the fold of the law through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) in partnership with the local government unit.
Barandon accepted his superior’s challenge, noting that the Peacemaker brigade will continue the fight against the NPA while leaving the door for reconciliation open for more rebels to rejoin the mainstream society. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)