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Philippine Marine chief in Basilan sacked

by AJLPP-USA Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007 at 10:01 AM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

-The commander of the Marine brigade battling Muslim extremists in Basilan was sacked from his post for not personally leading his troops into battle, the military’s chief said Wednesday. The removal of Col. Ra miro Alivio, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, comes just days after heavy troop casualties in clashes with the Abu Sayyaf. Alivio would be moved to another position in the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio “where his intelligence background will serve our organization best,” said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. He has been replaced by Col. Rus tico Guerrero, Esperon said.

Philippine Marine chief in Basilan sacked



Manila--The commander of the Marine brigade battling Muslim extremists in Basilan was sacked from his post for not personally leading his troops into battle, the military’s chief said Wednesday.

The removal of Col. Ramiro Alivio, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, comes just days after heavy troop casualties in clashes with the Abu Sayyaf.

Alivio would be moved to another position in the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio “where his intelligence background will serve our organization best,” said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. He has been replaced by Col. Rus tico Guerrero, Esperon said.

“We have to have a brigade commander that will be with the troops . . . during operations,” Esperon said, in contrast to Alivio who coordinated troop movements from his headquarters in Isabela City.

“A brigade commander will be more effective if he would be near the troops during operations and so we have put in there a commander who I think would . . . take all the opportunity to be with his troops,” Esperon said.

Last month, 14 Marines were slain, and 10 of them were beheaded, in an ambush led by Abu Sayyaf fighters and their allies.

A major assault on Saturday against the Abu Sayyaf’s training camp in the town of Ungkaya Pukan left another 15 Marines dead with some 30 Abu Sayyaf also killed or wounded.

“I wish Colonel Alivio would have been more forward. I know that he can control the troops from [headquarters] but I would have preferred that he be nearer to troops,” said Esperon.

He added that the military offensive was continuing both on Basilan and Jolo where 27 soldiers were also killed by the Abu Sayyaf earlier this month.

“If you ask if this is the end of his [Alivio] career, no. He is a very good officer and therefore we will put him in another position,” Esperon said.

The Marines’ spokesman, Lt. Col. Ariel Caculitan, had said that Alivio was suddenly replaced because of heavy losses sustained by his unit during Saturday’s assault and last month’s ambush.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed responsibility for the ambush of Marines on July 10 but denied that its fighters beheaded the soldiers.

A fact-finding team from the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) said the Abu Sayyaf carried out the beheadings.

The Abu Sayyaf has carried out the worst terror attacks in Philippine history including mass kidnappings and bombings. Both the US and Philippine governments have linked the Abu Sayyaf to the al-Qaeda network of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The United States, which has placed the Abu Sayyaf on its list of foreign terrorist organizations, has been providing small numbers of Special Forces personnel to provide intelligence and training to local forces.

--AFP and Anthony Varga

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