PAGADIAN CITY: Government troops deployed in Mindanao said they favor a decorated military commander in Mindanao as the next Philippine Army chief.
General Noel Coballes, the current army chief, is retiring on February at age 56 and troops in the southern region said they want General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III to succeed as the next Commanding General of the Philippine Army.
Cruz, who belongs to Class 1980 of the Philippine Military Academy, is the current chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City. Prior to that, Cruz was the commander of the 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga del Sur province in Western Mindanao.
He also served as deputy commander of the 10th Infantry Division and chief of the Task Force Davao, brigade commander and also an intelligence officer of the Philippine Army.
“Pabor kami kay General Cruz dahil bukod sa magaling at matino at walang bahid ng anumang eskandalo at subok na namin si General Cruz at talagang masipag,” one army sergeant here said.
He said many soldiers and officers also favor Cruz because of his loyalty and dedication to service and his unblemished military records and accomplishments.
Cruz was largely credited for his extraordinary peace and development outreach program that until now is being used by the army to address the insurgency problems in Mindanao.
Under Cruz’s stint as army commander and later as military commander in Eastern Mindanao, he introduced various reforms advocated the rights of indigenous people and strongly supported President Benigno Aquino’s peace process in Mindanao. AL JACINTO