COTABATO City, Philippines - Brig. Gen. Romeo Gapuz on Thursday took over the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division from Maj. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, who has been promoted as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Southern Luzon Command.

Gapuz, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1981, is leaving the Army's 4th Infantry Division.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes led the symbolic change of command at the parade grounds of Camp Siongco, the 6th ID’s command center in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.


Ordoyo said he is grateful to the soldiers of the 6th Infantry Division for supporting his peace overtures with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in support of President Benigno Aquino III’s Southern Mindanao peace process.


He urged Gapuz to continue the 6th ID’s low-level confidence-building maneuvers aimed at enhancing the cordiality of the peace talks between the government and the MILF.


While he was the Army division's commander, Ordoyo worked with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu in organizing a fluvial peace caravan involving dozens of boats, through the Butilen-Tamontaka River, which straddles through the border of Maguindanao and Cotabato City, to show support to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed Oct. 15, 2012.


The FAB, which has four annexes – territory; wealth-and-power sharing; normalization and transitional modalities – that have been signed by the government and the MILF, aims to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a self-governing Bangsamoro political entity.


Ordoyo also spearheaded last February 11, in the presence of President Aquino, a football match between Moro athletes and soldiers at the football field of Camp Siongco.


The event was part of the 6th Infantry Division’s confidence-building measures with the rebel group.


Gapuz, meanwhile, assured that he will continue Ordoyo's peace efforts.


He also vowed to adhere to the AFP's principles of accountability and transparency in handling the fiscal and logistical resources of the 6th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over Central Mindanao.


“I shall continue the peace maneuvers of my predecessors with the MILF and the 6th ID, under me, will toe Malacañang’s line in pushing the peace process forward,” Gapuz said.


He said he will support the peace process and exercise his authority in seeing to it that all units of the division will continue to abide with the government’s 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities with the MILF. (John Unson/Philippine Star)