IN a donning ceremony yesterday, November 13, for his rank as Brigadier General which he said was “biglaan,” surprising even himself, 104th “Sultan” Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan Juvymax Uy received his first star at the Philippine Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, from the Philippine Army Chief of Staff, BGen Robert M. Arevalo, representing Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista who was attending the ASEAN opening ceremonies at the Cultural Center of the Philippines that same day.

General Uy is the seventh in PMA “Makatao” Class of 1989 who received his star. Before him were two (2) of his mistahs from the PNP, one (1) from the Airforce and three (3) from the Navy. He is the only one so far from the Philippine Army who has been promoted to star rank.

As one who has written many times about the many accomplishments of the Joint Task Force Basilan, I was delighted, like most of my kababayans, about General Uy’s promotion.

This very humble and modest man, like his predecessors Lt. Gens. Charlie Galvez and Rolly Bautista, has endeared himself to the people of Basilan.

He was quick to say, though, that his promotion was not much about himself. “My promotion is not about me. It symbolizes collective perseverance and years of hard work.”

Thus, he said that he is dedicating his promotion to all the officers and soldiers under his command in Basilan “who continue to sustain the gains of the efforts in aggressively pursuing the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements” in his area of responsibility.

“We are able to manage, control and counter- terrorism and violent extremism in partnership with the local government units in the area–from the local chief executives down to the barangay level–and the Ulamas,” he said. He cited such strong coordinative mechanism with the local government units who lead the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group as primarily responsible for such gains.

During the siege of Marawi, where many of the battalions under the Joint Task Force Basilan were sent, General Uy’s forces, thru offensive and focused military operations, were able to prevent the Abu Sayyaf Group from sowing terror and from providing refuge to ASG fighters who have reportedly fled fighting in Marawi.

With ASG emir, Basilan-born Isnilon Hapilon gone and out of the way, the military in Basilan is now confronted primarily with Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Furuji Indama and Radzmil Janatul and their followers.

Since his installation as the topmost military commander in Basilan in January 2016, General Uy has been instrumental in the surrender of 124 ASG members, recovery of various high-powered and low-powered firearms, seizure of enemy encampments, and rescue of kidnap victims. Likewise, IED and similar bombings in the province have altogether stopped.

Congratulations and more power to you, Brigadier General Juvymay Uy! BEEN THERE DONE THAT/JOSEPHINE CODILLA

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