A KAGAY-ANON has taken the reins of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division (4ID).
Major General Ronald Villanueva took his post as 4ID commander on Wednesday morning, August 23, at Camp Evangelista, Barangay Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.
"I was born in Manila, grew up in Cagayan de Oro, but my parents are from Butuan City, and I married to someone who is from Iligan," Villanueva told reporters yesterday.
"Camp Evangelista has been a home for my family. I grew up here since my father led this division from 1988 to 1990. Who would have thought that someday I would be standing here delivering my remarks as division commander just like my father 29 years ago," he said.
Villanueva was the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Intelligence Service before his assumption as the 41st Commander of the 4ID.
Villanueva was also the Company Commander under the 53rd Infantry Battlaion in 1987; Commanding Officer of the 28th Infantry Battalion in 2003 and later lead the 26th Infantry Battalion until 2005; and Commander of 1002nd Infantry Brigade stationed in Sarangani Province from 2014 to 2016.
He was the Defense Group Commander of the Department of National Defense where he served as Group Commander, as well as the Defense Intelligence and Security Group from 2007 until 2010 before orchestrating the affairs of the Counter Intelligence Division of the AFP's OJ2 from 2010 to 2011.
He likewise served as Head of the Faculty Department of the AFPCGSC in 2012. He became Chiefs of Staff of both the 4th and 7th Infantry Divisions from 2012 to 2014.
Raised inside the vicinity of Camp Evangelista, Villanueva spent his grade school and high school at Xavier University, where he also got his Master's degree in Business Administration.
Villanueva also has a Master's Degree in National Security from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Diploma in International Development and Security from the Development Academy of the Philippines.
He is a Scout Ranger, a combat diver, an expert marksman, an Infantry and Intelligence Officer.
Villanueva said the existing directives and policies of his predecessor will remain in effect until he sees the need to replace them.
"As I face high expectations and challenges in this new position, I feel a strong sense of confidence with a dedicated team. We need to work harder so progress would continue unhampered, peace and order maintained. We will also continue to work with stakeholders," he added.
"Mission first, morale always," Villanueva told the 4ID soldiers Wednesday.
Villanueva took over from Major General Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. who led the division for one year and five months.
Madrigal has been appointed as the new commander of Southern Luzon Command.
During his stint as the division’s commanding general, a total of 239 New People's Army rebels either surrendered, died, or was captured during the combat operations; while soldiers recovered 243 assorted firearms and 125 Improvised Explosive Devices; arrested 140 drug personalities; and recovered illegal drugs with a total market value of 41 Million pesos in its support to law enforcement operations.
Also, Madrigal was also the proponent of the Bayanihan Oversight and Advisory Committee, a government body focused on addressing the concerns in conflict-affected areas.
All these efforts and achievements have paved way for the clearing of a total of 568 barangays in the two regions, Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions.
Madrigal's leadership also achieved the fourth and final stage of the Army Governance Pathway, an achievement which led the 4ID to garner the Gold Trailblazer award, after passing the revalida on June 5 this year at the Headquarters Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
The ceremony was graced by the Commanding General Philippine Army, Lieutenant General Glorioso V Miranda and was attended by different Local Chief Executives, Tribal Chieftains, Regional Directors, and distinguished guests from Northern Mindanao and Caraga Regions.
Both Villanueva and Madrigal are members of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 24, 2017.