As the Philippine Army’s 11th Infantry Division (ID) boosts its anti-terror campaign in the province of Sulu, top officers have been reshuffled.
The 11ID, also known as the Alakdan Division, reshuffled its 1101st, 1102nd, and 1103rd brigades on Tuesday. The 11ID is the Army’s youngest infantry division.
On December 17, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana oversaw the activation of the 11ID, which is tasked with combating Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups in the region.
Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista Jr., commander of the 1101st Infantry Brigade (Inf Bde), has been reassigned as the 11ID assistant division commander, according to Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, who performed the change of command ceremony.
Bautista handed over the command of the 1101st Inf Bde to Col. Eugenio Boquio, the 1103rd Inf Bde commander.
During Bautista’s 13-month tenure as commander of the 1101st Inf Bde, Gonzales remarked that he was able to compel a total of 99 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits to surrender and return to the folds of the law, displaying his strategic leadership abilities.
Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara, commander of the 1102nd Infantry Brigade, handed over leadership to Col. Giovani Franza, Assistant Division Commander for Retirees and Reservist Affairs for the 11ID.
Batara was named the new commander of the 1103rd Infantry Battalion, which was formed lately to strengthen the military’s presence in Sulu province.
The 1102nd Inf Bde forces under Batara’s command completed many effective combat missions. He was also noted for his work with the Balik Barangay Program of the Provincial Task Force in Ending Local Armed Conflict.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), was the guest of honor at the change of command ceremony, which was attended by Bautista, Batara, and Boquio.
Vinluan and Gonzales also presented the three officers with command plaques.
Gonzales praised the new commanders, stressing that the repositioning of key leaders is part of a larger attempt to streamline the organization and improve services to Sulu residents.
“Your leadership skills and accomplishments in such a short span of time truly show that only the brightest are assigned and appointed as commanders in this province. Indeed, Sulu is changing for the better. Let us keep working with the local government and other partners for peace. I expect nothing less in this new set-up,” Gonzales said.
Leading figures from several sectors were present during the change of command ceremony, including Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini, who was given the title of Army Captain as he officially joined the reserve army.
Hayudini, along with other military officers, received the Bronze Cross Medal, which is granted for bravery in the face of death.