BALOI, Lanao del Norte--The 55th Engineer Brigade, Philippine Army has welcomed its new commanding officer on Monday afternoon (August 5) at its headquarters in Barangay Maria Cristina this town.
In a simple ceremony inside a hall, Col. Irineo Sebastian, the acting commander, relinquished the command and turned over the command symbol to the new commander, Col. Nestor Abando, who served as deputy commander of the 51st Engineer Brigade based in Libis, Quezon City before taking over the 55EB.
In an interview, Abando said his leadership will continue the mandate of the unit which was the reason of its reactivation in March this year.
“The 55th Engineer Brigade was actually created (to help) the rehabilitation of Marawi City but rest assured that it is not only rehabilitation engineering works but also to help other government agencies in other interventions to the IDPs (internally displaced persons) like the psychosocial,” Abando said.
Next month, Abando said additional army engineer troops will arrive in their headquarters in Baloi to be deployed as additional forces in helping the Marawi rehabilitation.
“In one month time, they will be finished with their training and when they arrived here, they will undergo another training to fully equip them for bigger works in Marawi,” Abando added.
The unit has been helping the clearing, disposal and detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the most affected area of Marawi City that was destroyed during the five-month war in 2017 against the Dawlah Islamiya.
Sebastian took over as officer-in-charge after Brigadier General Ramon Ruiz took a leave of absence due to health reason. Ruiz was not anymore sent back to 55EB because he is projected to occupy a higher position.
Since then, Sebastian was also designated as commander of the Joint Task Group Builder, a team of soldiers who take charge in recovering and detonating UXOs.
The 55EB was deactivated in 2013 as part of the defense planning guidance to streamline the organization but was reactivated after six years to help the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi.
Presently, troops of 551st Engineer Battalion are also helping the GMA Kapuso Foundation constructing a three-story school building of Datu Saber Elementary School in Barangay Datu Saber outside the most affected area.
The old building was demolished to be replaced by a new and bigger one.
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