A MILITARY officer described as a “veteran” of the all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2000 has been designated as the new commander of the battle-tested Philippine Marines.
Maj. Gen. Andre Costales Jr. replaces Maj. Gen. Remigio Valdez, who will retire from the service on Thursday after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Costales was the deputy of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 when former President Joseph Estrada, now mayor of Manila, declared a total war against the MILF, according to Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, Marines spokesman.
He disclosed that Costales and his men were deployed in Matanog, Maguindanao, during the offensive and was among those who pounded the separatists’ main camp, which was later liberated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from MILF control.
It was in this feat, that Costales got his Gold Cross medal that recognizes gallantry in action, Lacuesta said.
He also commanded the forces in the Kalayaan Island Group in the disputed Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade.
But besides being a “warrior” which has been the mark of every member of the corps, Lacuesta said the new Marine commander is known as an educator because of his various assignments that dealt with education, among others as assistant superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), superintendent of the Marine Corps Training Center and as the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Training.
“He is really an educator. The branding of being a warrior has been part of being a member of the Marines. It was highlighted when he was assigned to Central Mindanao,” Lacuesta said of Costales.