Military strengthens forces in Sulu

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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Four days after nine female potential suicide bombers were arrested, the 11th Infantry Division (ID) has activated a new infantry brigade to beef up its forces in the province of Sulu.

Activated was the 1103rd Infantry Brigade, which is the third brigade of the Army’s 11ID, according to Maj. William Gonzales, 11ID commander.

Gonzales has installed Col. Eugenio Boquio as first commander 1103rd Infantry Brigade commander in a ceremony marking the birth of the new unit Tuesday in Camp Gen. Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu.

Boquio expressed his gratitude for being given the opportunity to lead the brigade and pledged to live up to the expectations that come with his position.

Before his new assignment, Boquio was the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Special Operations Command (SOCOM). 

He also served as the Chief of Staff of Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu in 2017 and the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion commander from October 2014 to March 2016. 

Gonzales said that the 11th ID now houses three Army brigades and one Marine brigade, which solidifies the presence of the Army in the province.

The other two Army brigades are the 1101st Infantry Brigade, which is responsible for securing the southern portion of the 1st District Sulu and the 1102nd Infantry Brigade that is in charge of Patikul town that lies on the north portion of the mentioned district.

The whole 2nd District of Sulu falls under the responsibility of the 4th Marine Brigade.

Gonzales said they have yet to determine the area of operations of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade, which currently has a skeletal workforce composed of various personnel from other units.

He said the activation of the new brigade is a significant step towards sustainable and inclusive peace in Sulu, “as we intend to fill it up with Tausug recruits.” 

“This provides an opportunity for the people of Sulu to take an active and meaningful role in securing their land,” Gonzales added.

The activation of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade came four days after government troops have arrested nine female potential suicide bombers in simultaneous operation in the province of Sulu.

The suspects, who were arrested Friday, are either widows and closed relatives of the slain Abu Sayyaf leaders and members. – Nikolai Gonzalo

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