Trading places: Ferrer takes over 6th ID; Pajarito takes over 1st ID
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 March) — The commanding officers of the 1st and
6th Army Infantry Divisions traded places Friday following the near collapse
of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but a
military spokesperson says the changing of the guards had “nothing to do with
the Midsayap clashes.”
Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command
(EastMinCom), told MindaNews Saturday that it is just part of the AFP’s policy
to rotate generals in key positions.
“It has nothing to do with the Midsayap clashes,” he said.Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito was replaced by Maj. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief
of the 1st Infantry Division or Tabak Division in Western Mindanao. Pajarito
took over Ferrer’s post in Tabak.
Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, 6th ID spokesperson, confirmed to MindaNews on Saturday
the Friday turn over of command.
Eighteen persons were killed in the clashes between government troops and the
MILF on March 6 and 7 in Midsayap, North Cotabato. The clashes could have been
avoided if the earlier agreements between the government and MILF Coordinating
Commitees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) had been observed.
The near collapse of the talks prompted President Arroyo’s issuance of a
seven-paragraph policy directive on March 12, reiterating the primacy of the
peace process. She also ordered restraint in the use of artillery and aerial
bombings during military operations.
Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chair, responded positively to the President’s
pronouncement with a seven-paragraph statement but he warned against “spoilers
of the peace process,” including what he said were “hawkish military officers
Rexall Kaalim, Bantay Ceasefire coordinator, told MindaNews replacing generals
in the area is not the main point.
“What is more welcome to me is that the entire institution of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) should
understand the peace process and should be aware of the ceasefire mechanisms,”
he said in a text message to MindaNews Saturday.
Kaalim said the mechanism will function well if supported by all stakeholders
as it will “stabilize a more conducive environment for the peace talks to
The ceasefire mechanisms had been proven in the past as effective in
protecting civilians, Kaalim said. De-escalating or preventing armed clashes
between the AFP and the Moro rebels will prevent displacement of civilians,
among them children and new born babies.
Von Al Haq, head of the MILF’s CCCH, said they have stated in their official
protests the alleged serious violations by the military, of the GRP– MILF
“Hopefully, General Ferrer has better knowledge of the peace process,” he
said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)