IT WAS a homecoming of sorts for the new Philippine Army commander for Panay and Guimaras islands.
Colonel Benedict Arevalo is back in Panay two decades later, albeit with a bigger responsibility laid on his shoulders.
Arevalo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1990, was formally designated commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade based in Camp Hernandez, Dingle, Iloilo in a ceremony Tuesday morning (July 10).
He succeeded Brigadier General Pio Diñoso, who left the post on May 22 to act as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo.
A native of Baguio City, Arevalo used to be an Intelligence Officer of 302nd Infantry (Achiever) Brigade in Negros Island from 1994-1995 and 1996-1998.
He was also Intelligence and Operations Officer of the defunct 7th Infantry Battalion under the 3rd Infantry Division in 1992-1994.
Arevalo said the years he spent as a lieutenant in areas under the 3ID would help him in knowing the soldiers and the people.
Initially, Arevalo said he would just continue what the 301st IB has been doing in its anti-insurgency campaign.
“We’ll continue with our development support activities in the area. We’ll also have assessment of our security situation,” he added.
Arevalo said they would still welcome rebels who want to give up the armed struggle.
“I hope more would lay down their arms. We always welcome a non-violent way of neutralizing the New People’s Army,” he added.
Arevalo said they would look into the situation of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) like their location to assess if there is a need to beef up the paramilitary force.
Meanwhile, Arevalo said they would do their best to attain the target to end the problem of insurgency by 2018.
In his assumption speech, he stressed the role of every stakeholders in addressing the insurgency problem.
He likened it to “putting together pieces of broken puzzle that represents each of us who has significant role to resolve the decade-long social problem.”
As he expressed his gratitude to the stakeholders, he also asked for their continuous support to the Brigade’s future endeavors.
Prior to his present designation, Arevalo was the commander of the Combat Arms School, Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
He took up various military trainings both local and abroad including Command & General Staff Course in Indonesia; Preparatory Course, Department of Defense Indonesia; Infantry Officer Advance Course and Infantry Officer Basic Course in Combat Arms School, TRADOC; Intel Officer Course at Special Intelligence Training School, Intelligence Service AFP, where he was among the top graduates.
He is also a recipient of various awards including bronze cross medals and numerous military merit medals and commendations both from military and civilian authorities.