By: Mario J. Mallari
Former coup plotter and Young Officers Union (YOU) founding member Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban yesterday formally assumed the post of commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). Sabban, a member of the controversial Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1978 which has President Arroyo as its honorary member, replaced Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, who was appointed commanding general of the military's Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City. "He is a seasoned officer, he can walk chin up with his promotion, “a Marine officer facing court martial prooceedings fur the February 2006 alleged mutiny told the Tribune during a hearing on Thursday. "He is well-respected, not only within the Marines, but also in the entire military circle,' the officer, who wanted to be anonymous, said of Sabban. "He is a principled gentleman. He deserves it,' another officer said of Sabban. Other members of the PMA Class of 1978include incumbent Army chief Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Maj. Gen. Romeo Preztosa. As ajunior officer, Sabban was among the YOU members, including now detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and fellow Marine and Medal of Valor awardee Col. Ariel Querubin, who joined forces with the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM) in staging the bloody December 1989coup d'etat against the Aquino administration. Before his promotion, Sabban served as the commanding general of the Joint Task Force Comet, the lead military unit running after the Abu Sayyaf terror group led by Albader Parad and Abu Jumdail, alias "Dr. Abu,' which had kidnapped three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers and held them in captivity in the jungles of the southern island province of Sulu. His appointment as Marine commandant was announced a day after the last ICRC hostage to be held by the Abu Sayyaf, Italian Eugenio Vagni, was released by the bandit group in Maimbung town, Sulu last Sunday.The two other ICRC workers - Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Swiss Andreas Notter - were released by the militants last April 2 and 18, respectively, in Indanan town. The turnover ceremonies at the PMC headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City were presided over by Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez and was attended by the military's top brass, led by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado. In his assumption speech, Sabban, who was chosen as among the 10 Outstanding Pilipino Soldiers by the Metrobank Foundation in 2003, called on the 8,000 strong Marines, who are known to be the AFP's invasion force, to be ready for non-traditional roles to properly cope up with the changing times. "To be able to cope with the rapidly evolving national security concerns, exigencies and demands brought about by these modern times, the Marine Corps must evolve as well, and its men and women must acquire new knowledge and skills and be prepared to perform non-traditional roles and tasks,' he said.
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