NEWLY designated commander of 4th Infantry Division Major General Romeo Brawner Jr. vows to intensify the fight against New People’s Army (NPA)’s extortion and recruitment activities under his area of responsibility.
In his assumption speech, Brawner delivered a reconciliatory but firm message to the NPA, encouraging them to return to the folds of the law and to live a normal life. He also directly identified the said organization as the biggest illegal business enterprise in the country that collected billions of pesos from its extortion activities.
“Mag balik-loob kayo, hindi sa gobyerno, pero magbalik-loob kayo sa mapayapang pamumuhay. Makaka-asa kayo na tutulungan namin kayo na mag bagong-buhay. H’wag kayong pumayag na habang nagpapakahirap kayo sa bundok ay nagpapakasarap naman ang mga lider ninyo sa Netherlands (Surrender and go back to leading peaceful lives. We will help you turn your lives around. Don’t allow yourselves to suffer in the mountains while your leader is enjoying his life in The Netherlands),” he said.
He also said that “we can stop extortion by the NPA with the cooperation of the private sector, the LGUs, and the hardworking citizens”.
He also appealed to all partners and stakeholders to continue supporting the soldiers to work towards achieving lasting peace in the area while delivering a clear message as a stern warning against the New People’s Army who continuously exploits and recruits the youths, IPs and extorts from the people.
“I am not red-tagging you. I am tagging you as common criminals – arsonists, extortionists, and murderers,” Brawner added.
Brawner assumed as the new commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army during the change of command ceremony held on July 5 at the Headquarters 4ID, Camp Evangelista, Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.
Brawner Jr, a native of Baguio City and member of Philippine Military Academy “Makatao” Class of 1989, replaced Maj. Gen. Andres C. Centino, the recently installed commanding general of the Philippine Army, through a traditional Change of Command Ceremony presided by General Cirilito E. Sobejana, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Prior to his present designation, Brawner held the position as the first Deputy Chief of Staff for Financial Management, J10 of the GHQ, AFP.
He also served as the commandant of cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, the Commander of the 103rd Brigade during the liberation of Marawi City, and served as the spokesperson of the Philippine Army and Chief of AFP Public Affairs Office.
Meanwhile, Centino, the outgoing commander, extended his deepest gratitude to all individuals, Units, and Offices of 4ID, and partners, and people of Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions for the support and trust which are instrumental to the significant milestones he achieved during his tenure as the 4ID Commander.
He underscored the “two-pronged approach” that sets the direction of his counter-insurgency campaign creating groundbreaking strategies and innovations after taking the helm of the 4ID last May 29, 2020, leading the way to victories against the communist terrorist group.
“Today marks the last day I served as a Diamond trooper. But truly its brilliant influence and lessons will always stay with me. Though I am now on a different path, our destination remains the same, towards a nation that is free from terror, a place where generations of Filipinos hailing from diverse cultures can thrive in peace, and attain prosperity,” Centino said.
Per record, a total of 5,556 CPP-NPA terrorists were neutralized, 26 of whom were high-value individuals or communist leaders while 45 were killed in armed encounters and 91 were captured.
Likewise, a total of 5,420 personalities surrendered to the government, 682 firearms were either seized or surrendered, and 196 enemy hideouts were discovered and seized.
In his message, Sobejana stated that he is confident that the 4ID’s campaign will continue under the leadership of Brawner with his vast experience.
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