MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur – A Bangsamoro regional lawmaker who hails from this area is glad and proud of the appointment of Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr. as the new commanding general of the Philippine Army (CGPA).
Zia Alonto Adiong, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Brawner is well deserving to become the next CGPA.
"I have personally witnessed his dedication and the degree of commitment he has in serving the people. We worked together during the Marawi siege, and he has helped us get through with our humanitarian responses by listening to our peoples' concerns," Adiong said in a statement sent to the media Tuesday night.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Brawner's appointment on Tuesday.
Adiong and Brawner were spokespersons, respectively, for the provincial government and military during the five-month siege in Marawi City in 2017.
"He is open to dialogue, an indication that he truly aims to understand the beating heart of the people," Adiong said.
He said when Brawner was stationed as the commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City, the latter was practically always on the move running after remnants of the Maute-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria local terrorist group who were hiding in the hinterlands of Lanao del Sur.
He said Brawner was able to capture many Maute-ISIS fighters, thus, reducing their ranks and substantially crippling the local terrorist network.
"We are proud to call him our brother because he shares and is also sensitive to the kind of narrative the Bangsamoro people continue to pursue considering that Maj. Gen. Brawner is himself a member of the indigenous cultural community in the North," Adiong said.
He also said Brawner speaks the principle of inclusivity and represents the many cultural minorities in the country which is an additional asset to our security sector.
Brawner is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Makatao” Class of 1989.
Before his appointment CGPA, Brawner is the commander of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City.
Under his leadership, the 4ID neutralized high-ranking communist leaders in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions including Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris, head of the New People's Army national operational command.
Brawner earlier said Ka Oris' death demoralized the NPA group that resulted in a series of surrenders and seizure of firearms nationwide.
The unit also significantly reduced the NPA presence in their areas of responsibility in compliance with the directive of Duterte to eradicate insurgency by the end of Brawner's term.
In an interview during the 4th-year commemoration of Marawi liberation on October 16, Brawner said it mattered not whether the opposing forces were IS-Maute or the NPA, as long as there is a holistic approach from the government.
"All of these (armed conflicts) do not only include military solution but a whole of nation approach," he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lt. Gen. Andres Centino welcomed Brawner's designation as the new CGPA.
"The Philippine Army congratulates Maj. Gen. Brawner on his appointment. As a competent and dedicated commander and leader, the Philippine Army is in good hands with Maj. Gen. Brawner at the helm," he said in a statement.
Centino also served as 4ID commander before being succeeded by Brawner. (PNA)