DAVAO ORIENTAL – The 701st Infantry Kagitingan Brigade of the Philippine Army based in the City of Mati, Davao Oriental now has a new commander.
Col. Krishnamurti Mortela assumed command of the 701st Brigade during the change of command ceremony held yesterday, August 11, via a video teleconference. Col. Mortela was at the 10th Infantry Division Headquarters in Mawab, Davao de Oro where he formally accepted the brigade’s command while the outgoing Commander, Brigadier General Jose Eriel Niembra, was at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Manila when he relinquished his command.
Presiding over the ceremony was the Commanding General of the 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division, Philippine Army, Major General Alfredo Rosario.
The newly installed Brigade Commander Col. Mortela who is not a stranger to the province of Davao Oriental said he is glad to be back in the province.
Eleven years ago, Col. Mortela served as the Battalion Commander of the 67th Infantry Agila Battalion based in the municipality Baganga, Davao Oriental which was the epicenter of the monstrous super typhoon Pablo in December 2012. He was well-known for his efforts when Super typhoon Pablo struck the province way back in 2012 which flattened three of its east coast towns.
He was designated as Incident Command Post (ICP) Commander of Baganga and was able to efficiently manage the ICP and effectively collaborated with the various agencies of government and non-government organizations- both local and international. Local government officials in the province called Col. Mortela a “hero” as they heaped praises on him for his “highly efficient leadership” as he was able to institute order in what could have been a highly chaotic situation.
“Coming back here as a former Battalion Commander and G3 of 10th ID, I feel that I am blessed to be in the company of people who served with me way back in 2009 to 2016. So, let me serve as a part of your team again so we can join hands to realize fully our unfinished business for peace. Specifically, I hope to renew our friendship and partnership to end violence, intimidation and lies perpetrated by the different threat groups, particularly the Communist-Terrorist group. I shall be a team player doing my part to meet head-on any challenge including, of course, this COVID-19,” said Col. Mortela.
Col. Mortela also vowed to the people in his new area of responsibility that he will be “an active partner for all mutual initiatives to the well-being, safety and security of our people.”
He also vowed to help sustain the government’s efforts in aiding former members of the Communist-Terrorist group in their transformation to their new lives. “As strong advocates of peace, we shall take the extra mile also to open doors for dialogues and reconciliation for those who are willing to accept the gifts of peace. Along this line we are ready to welcome our lost brothers with a red carpet. I believe they are just victims of lies and intimation of misguided sense of nationalism. We, thus, invite them who are fighting the lost cause. Come down because you have a sincere government waiting for you. Come down because you have a family in us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Col. Mortela said he is honored to take the helm of the Brigade from the decorated outgoing Commander, Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra, who provided sterling leadership and excellent performance during his stint as 701st Brigade Commander.
Under Brig. Gen. Niembra’s command which lasted for five months, the Brigade has accomplished scores of milestones. This includes the recovery of 88 high-powered firearms, 13 low-powered firearms, and a total of 101 assorted firearms. Under his watch, 28 members of the New People’s Army have surrendered and abandoned the insurgent life. They are now set to benefit from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Moreover, Brig. Gen. Niembra has not only effectively led his troops against several encounters but also exerted immense efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Soldiers nowadays are not solely combatants – we are also agents of peace and of nation-building. There are still many tasks that we can do to the people and our area. Our work never stops, and so, despite the initial challenges that I faced, we carried on as a unit. With your dedication and commitment, we accomplished our operational tasks ahead of time. But again, just because we were done, it doesn’t mean that there is no more work to do,” said Brig. Gen. Niembra.
Brig. Gen. Niembra extended his thanks to the provincial government for their overwhelming support to the troops and its efforts in pursuing peace.
Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang lauded the leadership of the outgoing commander as he warmly welcomed and vowed to provide the same support and courtesy to the newly installed commander.
Brig. Gen Niembra is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sambisig” Class of 1991. He currently assumes the position as the new chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Col. Mortela, on the other hand, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Tanglaw Diwa” of 1992. He has been serving the Army for 34 years. Prior to his appointment as Commander of the 701st Brigade, he was assigned as the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Education G8. By Karen Lou Deloso/ Contributed Photos