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Colonel who saw action vs Abu Sayyaf is new Rangers chief

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:40:00 04/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A colonel who saw action against Islamic extremists in the south has been appointed the new commander of the elite Scout Rangers, the spokesman of the Philippine Army said Monday.

Colonel Noel Coballes will assume command of the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) later this month, replacing Brigadier General Reynaldo Mapagu, who was promoted to Army chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

Before his new assignment, Coballes was commander of the 105th Infantry Brigade in the island province of Basilan, one of the strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf.

He was later transferred to the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), where he headed the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, Torres said.

Mapagu, on the other hand, replaces Brigadier General Ralph Villanueva, who was recently named commander of the 7th Infantry Division in place of retired major general Juanito Gomez.

Asked if the Army leadership was confident Coballes would remain loyal to the chain of command when he takes over the helm of a unit that has been involved in several coup attempts, Torres replied: “He has no history, he did not join such activities in the past.”

Nineteen Scout Ranger officers, including their former regiment commander, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, are on court martial for mutiny over the alleged February 2006 coup plot.

Junior officers from the FSRR were also part of a short-lived uprising in July 2003 in Makati City dubbed the Oakwood mutiny.

In the late 1980s, the Rangers, among them the then junior officer Lim, also figured in several coup attempts against the Aquino administration.

Coballes, a 1980 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), was selected by the Board of Generals headed by outgoing Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Torres said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-04-21T08:08:49+00:00UTC04bUTCMon, 21 Apr 2008 08:08:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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