By Francis Wakefield
Brigadier General Abraham Claro Casis, the Commander of Joint Task Force -National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), bowed out from the military service in a joint Retirement and Change of Command Ceremony at the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Wednesday, February 6.
Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., presided over the ceremony. Casis was replaced by Brig. Gen Cristobal Zaragoza, the concurrent 4th ID Assistant Division Commander for Operations.
The incoming JTF-NCR Commander, Zaragoza is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Hinirang Class of 1987.
Prior to his new assignment in JTF-NCR, he led the 401st “Unity” Brigade in intensifying the Peace and Development efforts together with stakeholders to weaken the insurgency in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur. He was also the commander of Task Force Davao in 2015 and 30th Infantry Battalion under the 402nd Brigade in 2008.
Zaragoza also held several intelligence related position, such as the Chief of Staff of the Intelligence Service of AFP, Area Unified Command Staff for Intelligence of Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC), and Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of 2nd ID. He was also assigned as the Chief of Unified Command Staff of EMC and Area Unified Command Staff for Operations of Northern Luzon Command.
“Being the Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4ID prior to your current designation, I am confident that you can easily adapt to your new operating environment considering the success of your banner program in 4ID – the joint AFP-PNP campaign plan “Panaghiusa,” Madrigal said.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude and profound congratulations for your invaluable service in the military. Indeed, you have served the nation with pride and honor. The Armed forces of the Philippines is indebted for your valuable contributions to the service, to the country, and to the Filipino people,” Madrigal added.
Casis, who is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sandiwa Class of 1985, will retire after more than 35 years in the military service. He is a seasoned intelligence and operations officer, a sportsman, and an accomplished commander.
He was the Operations Officer of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the presidency of former Presidents Noynoy Aquino and Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
During his assignment in the PSG, he crafted the first ever PSG Operation Handbook and the VIP Protection Handbook that made the protectors of the Chief Executive more responsive to all given VIP Security Operations, he was also then the Officer in Charge of the Office of the President for Military Affairs.
Casis also commanded the Military Intelligence Group 2 (MIG 2) and was recognized as the best MIG due its outstanding accomplishment in the field of intelligence.
As a sportsman he led the AFP Cavaliers Basketball Team to the championship during the 4th Season of the UNTV Games where they donated the cash prize worth P4 million to AFP scholarship programs.
In early 2000, the AFP declared the province of Bohol as Peaceful and Insurgency Free, through his notable leadership of the 6th Special Forces Battalion, which was also awarded as the Best Battalion of Central Command.
His leadership and expertise in the field of internal security operation during his stint as the Brigade Commander of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, was vital in securing the people of the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, and Southern Municipalities of Nueva Vizcaya and Eastern Pangasinan.
The methodology he used in winning peace and development in the Province of Bohol became one of the templates of the AFP Internal Security Plan “Bayanihan”.
“A leader of his own caliber, Brigadier General Casis has efficiently steered the command to rightfully perform its mandated task of maintaining the security, upholding peace and order, and protecting the seat of government in the National Capital Region and other areas of the country as directed,” Madrigal said.