Army commander in Sulu sacked after beheading of Canadian hostage


A BRIGADE commander was relieved from his post, following the beheading of a Canadian mining executive kidnapped in the southern Philippines by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a military official announced Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arojado was replaced by Col. Jose Faustino, Jr. as commander of the Philippine Army’s 501st Brigade based in Jolo, Sulu, according to Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman.

Padilla was quick to clarify that Arojado’s relief has nothing to do with the beheading of John Ridsdel, 68, a former executive of international miner TVI.

It was not disclosed if Arojado would be given a new position.

Ridsdel was reportedly killled at 3:45 p.m., Monday, by jihadists under Ben Tatoh Sawadjaan, in Lower Sinumaan village. His severed head, placed in a plastic bag, was recovered in the town of Jolo later in the day.

“Brig. Gen. Arojado has served with distinction as brigade commander of the 602Bde and 501Bde for a total period of two years and five months,” Padilla said. “In the last 18 months, he led the campaign against the KFRGs (kidnap-for-ransom groups) on the island of Jolo.”

He explained that Army officers usually serve a minimum of one year and six months in major positions to complete their billet requirements.

Ridsdel was snatched from the resort island of Samal in Davao del Norte province last Sept. 21 along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, 50; Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56; and Filipina Maritess Flor.

The Abu Sayyaf demanded as much as P300 million for each of the foreign hostages. It released several videos of Ridsdel, Hall and Sekkingstad appealing to their governments and the Philippines to pay the ransom.

Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, acting AFP Chief of Staff and Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Army commander, went to Sulu to check on the requirements of the troops, Padilla said.

“There is no change in the way we are doing the battle, except that we have clear instructions to address the threat with whatever means we have,” Padilla said. FERNAN MARASIGAN



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