Basilan Marines commander relieved
The commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, Col. Ramiro Alivio, was relieved of his duties for staying in his headquarters while Marines clashed with around 80 Abu Sayyaf forces in Ungkawa Pukan town, Basilan last Aug.18.
AFP chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Alivio’s relief was the decision of the Board of Generals.
Col. Rustico Guerrero, former chief of the Marine Corps Training Center based at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, took over Alivio’s post in simple rites at the 1st Marine Brigade headquarters in Isabela City yesterday.
“I know that he (Alivio) can control the troops from where he was (in the headquarters) but I would have preferred that he be nearer to troops,” said Esperon.
Fifteen soldiers from the Force Recon class No. 13 on a test mission died and 10 were wounded.
The military claimed at least 42 Abu Sayyaf leaders and members died but troops recovered only seven bodies.
The military launched punitive actions last Aug. 13 against joint forces from the Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and lawless elements in Basilan who ambushed 14 Marines and beheaded 10 of them in Al-Barka town.
Esperon said Task Force Thunder commander and Western Mindanao deputy chief Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban was in charge of the whole operation as Army forces were also involved “but I wish Col. Alivio would have been more forward.” Alivio’s unit is under TF Thunder.
“We have to put in another commander in Basilan not because Col. Alivio failed in his job but I think we have to have a brigade commander that will be with the troops, that would prefer to be with the troops during operations,” he said.
“What we are after is more aggressive pursuit against the Abu Sayyaf in the area and so we believe that Col. Rustico Guerrero fits the bill,” said Esperon.
He said Alivio would be given a new position.
“We will put Col. Alivio in a position where his intelligence background will serve our organization best,” he said.
Alivio justified his decision, saying tactical matters on the ground should be handled by battalion commanders.
“The command and control is at the headquarters, it’s where the communication was,” said Alivio.
“I plan for the battalions. If the higher headquarters think that I was wrong, they should have reviewed my plans,” he said.
“Since the (relief) order is already out, we have to respect it. It’s a sigh of relief. It’s a great unburden on my part,” he said. – Victor Reyes