Friday, March 25, 2011

‘Bicol Veteran’ Is the New Army Commander of Bicol Region

Major General Josue Gaverza AFP, the new Commander of the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division

PILI, Camarines Sur – A veteran in Bicol’s counterinsurgency campaign will take the reins as the Commander of the Army forces in the region, a military official said.

Major Harold Cabunoc, the Spokesperson of the 9th Infantry Division said that Major General Josue Gaverza, 54, will assume command of the 5,000 strong Army Forces in the whole Bicolandia effective tomorrow, March 26.

“General Gaverza is a well-rounded officer who had served as the Battalion Commander of the 31st Infantry Battalion based in Sipocot town in CY 2000. Through his excellent combat leadership, the 31st IB scored heavily against the NPA bandits when the main rebel camp of the Bicol Regional Party Committee was seized by the soldiers of his battalion,” said Cabunoc.

A father figure to his subordinates, soldiers of the 31st Infantry Battalion fondly remember him as a very caring officer.

Captain Marcial Lumanga, 35, who once served in the same battalion said that General Gaverza was still the talk among the soldiers as one of the ‘best commanders’ that they ever had.

“He is best remembered as an intelligent tactician and for his excellent managerial acumen. My soldiers can attest to the fact that he made sure that every foot soldier was provided all necessary support as they carried out their delicate missions in the field,” said Lumanga.

“Up to now, soldiers and their families still recall about Gaverza’s exceptional kindness to the soldiers. He demands strict military discipline but he ‘touches’ the hearts of the soldiers and their dependents. The unit won a Commander 2ID Streamer Award for being the Best Battalion in 2001 and it was attributed to the fact that the soldiers’ morale and welfare were properly taken cared of,” added Lumanga.

In his own revelation, Cabunoc cites his personal experiences while working with General Gaverza who once served as the Contingent Commander of the Philippine Army Shooting Team which was sent to Malaysia in 1997.

“He was a very approachable officer who inspires his subordinates. He was one of the officers who strongly supported the Army Shooting Team by providing us with brand new M16A2 Rifles and relevant shooting accessories. He was among those senior officers who really listened to our recommendations,” said Cabunoc, a former Team Leader of the Army’s elite marksmen fielded for international shooting competitions.

A native of Zarraga town in Iloilo, Gaverza was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1978.

He had served in the three largest islands of the Philippine Archipelago starting as a Platoon Leader of the 4th Infantry Division in Mindanao. He had also commanded the 303rd Infantry Brigade in the Visayas in 2008.

His sterling performance is capped by his numerous awards and citations. He is a recipient of the Gold Cross Award, the third highest combat award, for his gallantry in action under enemy fire.

He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Star for his exceptional performance in the sensitive positions that he had held in the Philippine Army.

A widower, Gaverza lost his wife in a freak accident more than a decade ago. They are blessed with three sons Joshua Alexei, 24; Jean Karl, 20, and Justine Stefan, 17.

Major General Ruperto “Raffy” Pabustan, the outgoing Division Commander, has welcomed Gaverza as his replacement.

“I am confident that he can sustain the efforts that I have started here in the region. I am thankful that the Spear Warriors (9th ID soldiers) are in good hands,” said Pabustan in a statement.

The formal change of command ceremony will be held in Camp Elias Angeles at 10:00am tomorrow, March 26 (Saturday).

Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army will preside the turn-over ceremony.

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