A SCOUT Ranger officer leading the campaign against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Sulu has been named acting commander of AFP’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).
Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of the 11th Infantry Division and concurrent chief of the Joint Task Force Sulu, will assume his new post this morning in rites at the command’s headquarters in Zamboanga City.
Wesmincom has operational control over major Army, Air Force and Navy units involved in addressing various security threats, including terrorists and
Communists, in Western Mindanao.
AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Vinluan’s successor will be Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, current commander of the Bulacan-based First Scout Ranger Regiment, an elite unit under the Philippine Army.
Arevalo said the two generals were designated in an acting capacity because President Duterte has yet to sign the recommendation of the Board of Generals or the signed document is not yet out.
Arevalo described Vinluan and Gonzales as “seasoned military commanders whose leadership abilities borne of acquired education and training, wealth of experiences, and exposure to combat operations are remarkable.”
Vinluan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988 and Gonzales, Class 1989.
Vinluan will take over Wesmincom from Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who assumed the post of Army chief on August 4.
Vinluan assumed the post of commander of both the 11th ID and JTF Sulu in July last year.
Before that, Vinluan was commander of the Nueva Ecija-based Light Reaction Regiment, another elite Army unit.
“He spearheaded a significant combat operations that led to the neutralization of several ASG members and foreign terrorists operating in the hinterlands of Sulu. Foremost among them are the Egyptian suicide bombers who were killed when they were about to execute a planned suicide bombing in metro Jolo,” said Arevalo of Vinluan.
“He is a veteran of Marawi campaign and of various other combat operations against terrorist groups from Zamboanga Peninsula to Central Mindanao. He has become both a warrior and and a peace advocate,” added Arevalo.
On Gonzales, Arevalo said is a “true blue Scout Ranger,” being a graduate of the Scout Ranger Training School in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and of the US Ranger Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Arevalo said Gonzales has been leading the First Scout Ranger Regiment for two-and-a-half years.
Gonzales served as commander the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion operating in Basilan, and as chief of Unified Staff of Wesmincom, which Arevalo said give Gonzales a “vital grasp” of Wesmincom’s area of responsibility.
There was o word as to who would succeed Gonzales as head of the First Scout Ranger Regiment.
Sobejana vouched for Vinluan. “With his understanding of the dynamics, he will be able to sustain our efforts, sustain our gains.”
Sobejana said Vinluan is aware of the political, economic, religious, socio-cultural dynamics of the conflict in western Mindanao “so he will continue, he can continue what we are doing, (implementation of) the current security template.”
Wesmincom spokesman Maj. Arvin Encinas said Vinluan “spearheaded significant combat operations that led to the neutralization of several ASG members and foreign terrorists operating in the hinterlands of Sulu.”