Sixth (6th) Infantry Division chief, Major General Cirilito Sobejana, will formally take over the Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) on Friday, according to Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal.
“It’s true. Turnover will be on 28 June. He is most qualified, having been assigned there most of his career. (Sobejana) is a Medal of Valor awardee and dedicated officer,” Madrigal said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency late Monday when asked to confirm the report.
The 6th Infantry Division commander said he will try his best to neutralize the terrorist threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.
Earlier, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said that it will be logical to appoint Sobejana to the helm of WESMINCOM as he one of the most senior and experienced division commanders in the Philippine Army aside from being familiar with the areas of the command, which include Basilan, Sulu, and Cotabato.
“He is well familiar with the Western Mindanao Command and he earned his Medal of Valor (the AFP’s highest combat decoration) while serving there,” Detoyato said in Filipino.
Sobejana, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1987, was given the Medal of Valor for his actions in January 13, 1995 where and his platoon engaged an estimated 150 Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Isabela, Basilan.
In the four-hour firefight, Sobejana was wounded multiple times but still carried on with the fight until he and his men were reinforced by other military units. In that encounter, 30 Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed while an undetermined number were wounded.
Aside from this, Sobejana is also respected by the local populace and Muslim leaders, the AFP public affairs office chief said.
Sobejana will be replacing outgoing WESMINCOM chief, Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, a member of PMA Class of 1985, who is scheduled to retire this coming June 28.
Dela Vega, also a former commander of the 6th Infantry Division, opted to bow out early from the service though he has yet to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on March 28, 2020. PNA