The recent disturbances in Mindanao has forced the assignment of Task Force Davao chief Col. Renier Cruz to Saranggani last week.
Meet his replacement – Col. Oscar Lactao. He was at the City Council at yesterday’s session to announce his new posting. TFDavao, part of the 10th Infantry Division, is the military contingent responsible for Davao City and neighboring towns. It was created in 2003 after the city became the target of terrorists with the deadly bombings outside the Davao airport and seaport.
If not for his rank and uniform, one would easily mistaken him as a politician. He shakes hands quite naturally, has charming disposition, and talks well and with sense.
Last night at the reception for the Malaysia’s 51st National Day at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Col. Lactao blended well with the crowd of consular officials, city officials, business persons and civic leaders. It’s not surprising actually. He has, in addition to military trainings here and in the US, a masters degree in international studies at UP.
Col. Lactao, who hails from Metro Manila, started his military career in Davao. After finishing at the Philippine Military Academy in 1984, he enlisted in the Philippine Army and was assigned as a young lieutenant in the Davao Region, where he rose from the officer corps. From leading platoons and companies, he matured into heading infantry battalions in the Visayas and Basilan. He was in the news in 2003 during his assignment in Leyte where his unit was implicated in the alleged massacre of civilians.
He has earned many military medals and awards in his 24 years in the service. Prior to his return to this new Davao assignment, he was Secretary of the Army General Staff at the Philippine Army HQ at Fort Bonifacio in Makati.
He sees his new post as a challenge to make Davao City a model in implementing what he termed as a “wholistic approach to counter insurgency and anti terrorism” – a combination of civic and military strategies and tactics. He closed his short remark at the City Council by promising to do his best for he said he “may not pass this way again.”