EastMinCom chief aims to protect villages from NPA

THE NEWLY appointed chief of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) will bolster the community support program (CSP) to prevent communities, particularly the Lumads, from being swayed into joining the communist rebel group.

The post was formally turned over to Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal in a ceremony presided yesterday by Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), at Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Camp Panacan.

Madrigal replaced Brig. Gen. Perfecto Rimando Jr., acting commander of the EastMinCom.

“We will continue what our units have started. Of course, we have to prioritize the continuing efforts for the communities, especially with regards to the Indigenous people (IP) community,” Madrigal said in the interview yesterday.

The CSP is a military-initiated program, which aims to engage stakeholders and residents for the development of the community. A major thrust is to secure villages from New People’s Army influence.

He said that the communities need to be enlightened so they won’t join the NPA. “Because no matter how many combat operations we launch, this (rebellion) won’t stop.”

Madrigal will visit all brigades and battalion units to be briefed on the strength of the NPA in their respective areas.

Present during the ceremony were the 10th Infantry and 4th Infantry division commanders, brigade and battalion commanders, other security forces and stakeholders.

In his speech, Guerrero reiterated his gratitude to the command, local government officials and other stakeholders for the support during his stint as EastMinCom chief. He also fully supports the appointment of Madrigal as the new commander.

“Madrigal is not a stranger in the command,” Guerrero said. “He returns and brings his knowledge in the area.”

Madrigal is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, Madrigal is currently the Commander of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom).

Prior to his appointment as Solcom commander, Madrigal held key positions in the Philippine Army such as commander of the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan De Oro; assistant division commander and later acting division commander of the 10th Infantry Division in Compostela Valley before becoming the chief of staff of the Philippine Army.

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