THE commander of the Presidential Security Group is set to be seeing action again in war-torn Mindanao as he is strongly being groomed to lead the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based in the Zamboanga region, military sources said Saturday.
The sources said current PSG commander Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista is being readied to replace First Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 in March.
Bautista is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class ’85 while Barrientos belongs to PMA “Matikas” Class of 1983.
Before he was appointed commander of President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal security detail, Bautista was commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade of the 1stID which is responsible for Basilan and Sulu, the main lairs of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
While commander of the brigade, Bautista was also concurrent commander of the Joint Task Group Basilan which is under the Joint Task Force “Zambasulta” (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi). The same task groups also exist in the other mentioned provinces where handful of terrorist groups operate.
Just like other senior military officers during the Aquino administration, Bautista’s rise in the hierarchy was stalled by “militics” (military politics) because of his links to one of the many coup attempts during the administration of the late former President Corazon Aquino, mother of former President Benigno Aquino III.
But Bautista’s career recovered quickly after the last Aquino administration and was rewarded with meritorious promotion when Duterte restored the military’s Board of Generals (BOG) which vets and recommends promotions to the general staff.
Bautista is set to be replaced in the PSG by Duterte’s senior military adviser Col. Lope Dagoy (PMA “Hinirang” Class ’87), who also spent most of his military career in Mindanao, particularly the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) based in Davao City.