Negros Army gets new commander

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Colonel Michael Samson was designated as the new acting commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) in Negros Occidental on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022.

Samson, who served as deputy brigade commander since 2019, assumed the old post of Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte who officially retired from the military service on Dec. 28.

Major General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) and concurrently the acting chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas command, presided over the turnover of command and retirement ceremonies held at the 303rd IBde headquarters in Murcia town yesterday.

On Dec. 7, Pasaporte was awarded with a command plaque and memento during the testimonial parade at the 3ID headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz. He was the 27th commander of the 303rd IBde.

Arevalo, in a media interview, said he ordered the new brigade commander to continue the current mission of the Philippine Army.

Arevalo said that many NPA high-ranking officials were pinned down by Pasaporte during his stint.

Under Pasaporte’s leadership, some high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA) were neutralized,  including Romeo Nanta alias “Juanito Magbanua,” commander of the Regional Operational Command of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros and the spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC); National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Ericson Legazpi Acosta; and Kerima Tariman, husband of Acosta, who was also an alleged NPA leader.

“Ituloy niya (Samson) lang ang ginawa ni (Brigadier General) Pasaporte, guided by our mantra ‘loved by the people, feared by the enemy,’ nakita ko kung gaano ka effective ang campaign ng 303rd IBde,” he added.

Arevalo said the NPA guerilla fronts continue to weaken. “They’re trying to show their force pero alam namin na humihina na sila,” he added.

In fact, he said that at least 55 encounters were reported this year, and all of them were successful, except for the number of casualties in the series of Himamaylan clashes last October. “We are always on the upper hand, winning streak tayo,” he added.

He reminded the troopers not to be complacent, and to continue their offensive and aggressive operations against the NPA rebels.

He also noted the importance of gaining support from the public. “We are assured of winning if we have the support of the public,” he said.