NEW COMMANDER. Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Philippine Army commander (center), installs on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 11, 2022) Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete (right) as the new commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division (ID). Nafarrete replaced Brig. Gen. Jose Randolph Sino Cruz, who served as 1ID acting division commander since July 9. (Screengrab from 1ID Facebook account)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The new commander of the Army's 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division (1ID) has pledged to continue the plans and programs his predecessors have laid down against insurgency and terrorism.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete assumed on Thursday afternoon his new post as commander of the 1ID, touted as the Philippine Army's premier command.

Nafarrete replaced Brig. Gen. Jose Randolph Sino Cruz, who served as 1ID acting commander when Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio retired from military service on July 9.

“For the communist terrorist group (New People’s Army), our efforts will be anchored on the whole-of-nation approach of the government through the Task Force ELCAC (End Local Communist Armed Conflict),” he said.

“Similar initiatives will be undertaken to address the other terrorist group as well,” he added, referring to the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiya - Maute Group (DI-MG).

During Ponio's stint, Nafarrete noted that the 1ID managed to dismantle five NPA guerrilla fronts, a regional guerrilla unit, and a regional urban committee.

Likewise, he said, the 1ID diminished the capability of the DI-MG to wage hostilities.

“Equaling these accomplishments is already a great challenge for me and surpassing them would even be more daunting,” Nafarrete said.

Laying out his plans, he said collaboration with local government units and the private sector would be intensified “to infuse more development programs” to areas already cleared from NPA influence.

Cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police, will also be improved further to address insurgency and terrorism.

Nafarrete noted that his new designation “is indeed like a homecoming to me” as his first assignment in the division was as platoon leader of the 10th Infantry Battalion’s Alpha Company, way back in 1991.

Before his new assignment, he served as the Westmincom's deputy commander for internal defense.

The 1ID covers the Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and parts of Lanao del Sur. (PNA)