SORSOGON CITY, December 3 – The new military commander of the 903rd Infantry (FACIENDUM EST) Brigade of the 9th Infantry (SPEAR) Division, Philippine Army was installed on Monday at 3:00 in the afternoon during the change of Command Ceremony.
Maj. General Romeo B. Calizo, Commander of 9th ID, as the Presiding Officer and Guest of Honor and Speaker, presided over the Change of Command Ceremony held at Headquarters 903 Infantry Brigade stationed at Barangay Poblacion, Castilla this province.
The ‘be medalled’ Colonel Joselito E. Kakilala replaced ‘multi-awarded’ Colonel Felix Castro Jr. The former commander will assume command as Assistant Deputy Commander (ADC) of 9ID, Philippine Army based in Pili, Camarines Sur. Castro will replaced Brig. Gen. Baladad who assumed command as the new J3 or Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
The simple ceremony was attended by several top brass of 9ID and its battalion commanders, top brass of Sorsogon PNP, LGUs, NGOs, stakeholders and tri-media.
“I have passed with flying colors”
Castro, in his Remarks and Relinquishment of Command reminisced ‘how times fly’ when he assumed the reins of the brigade on January 26 last year, almost a year and 11 months, he said “Change is nothing constant in the military, for the purpose of infusing news ideas.”
During his incumbency, he laid out four things like partnership with LGUs and NGOs; active role in disaster risk management and relief operations; meeting the threat posed by the insurgents in Sorsogon and Masbate and the full support to PNP in responding to armed threat.
“This I have passed with flying colors.”
It should be recalled that both 903 infantry brigade and 9th infantry battalion were chosen as 9ID’s best for 2011 during the incumbency of Col. Castro. Both were chosen by leadership of the Philippine Army as the Best Infantry Brigade and Best Infantry Battalion in Bicol Region for the year 2011 in terms of accomplishments. For these, Castro was given the Award of Merit by the Commanding General of the Philippine Army and the Command Plaque by 9ID Commander.
Castro thanked the entire stakeholders who have supported the brigade during his leadership. He encouraged each member of the brigade to give full support to the new commander.
On his Assumption of Command, Col. Kakilala said “The IPSP ‘Bayanihan’ efforts which had been vigorously pursued during the incumbency of Col. Castro will be continued and strengthened through his command in order to sustain the gains and further attain peaceful and developed communities in the entire province including the island province of Masbate.
Gen. Calizo, on the other hand said that the change of command is part of the military tradition that gives utmost recognition to the significant accomplishments made by the previous commander and give new challenges to the new commander as he fulfills his duties and responsibilities in his new assigned task.
Calizo asked from the local Chief Executives, the Provincial Government, the Municipal and City governments to continue their commitment of support and cooperation to the new commander of the brigade in the service of their constituents and in the attainment of lasting peace and sustainable development.
The pride of Cebu
Col Kakilala has been recognized as among the 2008 outstanding soldiers during Cebu City’s celebration of Independence Day.
Then Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmena gave honor to Kakilala, the recipient of the 2008 search for outstanding Philippine soldiers for his gallantry, competence, professionalism and integrity by the Metrobank Foundation and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro.
In his Independence Day message, Osmena said “This day should be the time to inculcate among the people our pride as a nation…we are celebrating as a nation, as a people. I hope that the prestige Cebuano soldier Col. Joselito Kakilala will serve as an example for Cebuanos to treat Independence Day as a day to be proud of being a Filipino.”
Together with 9 other recipients of the award, Kakilala received P250, 000.00 and a trophy handed by no less than then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a ceremony on May 12, 2008.
According to his service record, this Army officer led the campaign against communist guerillas in Mindanao and later in Central Luzon.
Though bent on silently doing his job, Kakilala is famous in his own right. It was his exploits on the warfront that rendered him bedridden and almost invalid for more than two months due to gunshot wounds in his spinal column. Though critically wounded, he refused to yield to the NPA’s demand for him and his men to surrender. This, as Kakilala led his outnumbered men through a six-hour gunfight against 100 NPA rebels when their tank was ambushed in Surigao del Sur in 1996.
Such bravery did not escape the attention of the Rotary Club of Makati and the Metrobank Foundation Inc. These two non-government entities have been honoring outstanding public servants picked Kakilala as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers for 2008.
On top of this award, he was the recipient of the most-coveted Cavalier Award from his alma mater during the homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) where he was a member of Class 1984.
Fresh from PMA, Kakilala was dispatched to Mindanao where he spent the next 10 years fighting the NPA and Moro rebels.
After recuperating for two months in the hospital, Kakilala returned to the front line, helping dismantle three main regional and sub-regional armed groups in the Caraga region.
When he was transferred to Manila, he occupied various positions before getting appointed as Army spokesman.
Back to the warfront
Being a combatant officer, he was subsequently assigned to Central Luzon as commander of the 40th Infantry Battalion to fight the communist insurgents in Nueva Ecija and Aurora.
Armed with combat skills he had employed in Mindanao, Kakilala, a Cebuano and his men dismantled three Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA front committee in the two provinces.
Brainchild of BDS
Kakilala is the brainchild of Barangay Defense System. It has been incorporated into the overall plan of the Armed Forces to defeat the insurgents before President Arroyo steps down in 2010.
He initiated the growth of 55 Barangay Defense System in all barangays of San Jose City and Carangalan in Nueva Ecija.
Kakilala has served also as military assistant for Army and public affairs in the Department of National Defense. He has been a recipient of various awards, including two distinguished service stars, one gold cross medal, two bronze medals, several military merit medals and wounded personnel medals. (MHatoc/PIA Sorsogon)