Golan Heights peacekeeping veteran is new Visayas military chief

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Major General Roberto Ancan will take over the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Central Command (Centcom) in Cebu City on Thursday morning, October 31.

Ancan will be at the helm of Centcom beginning Thursday, replacing General Noel Clement who assumed the post of AFP chief of staff on September 20. (READ: Central Visayas commander Noel Clement is new armed forces chief)

Clement confirmed Ancan's appointment as Centcom chief to Rappler in a text message on Wednesday, October 30.

He most recently led the 1st Infantry Division in southern Mindanao, which specializes in counterterrorism and guerrilla warfare. 

As Centcom chief, Ancan will be responsible for supervising the Philippine Army, Navy, and Air Force units in the Visayas region.

In 2014, Ancan was the commander of the 80th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army who joined a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights. In August that year, the Filipino troops figured in an encounter where they engaged Syrian rebels in a 7-hour firefight.

Under Ancan's leadership and with orders from then AFP chief of staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr, the FIlipino battalion was able to fend off Syrian rebels before being able to safely escape. (READ: Golan standoff over; Filipino troops safe)

According to his profile on the Philippine Army's website, Ancan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy's Hinirang Class of 1987. He also holds a master's degree in management from the Philippine Christian University.

In March, the 1st Infantry Division was able to kill the last Maute leader Benito Marohombsar or "Abu Dar," who was one of those responsible for the 2017 Marawi siege.

The death was a result of clashes in Tuburan town in Lanao del Sur. The military confirmed the death through a DNA test a month after the encounter.

Clement, who remained Centcom's officer-in-charge concurrently with his post as AFP chief, is expected to be in Cebu City to turn over his old post. – with a report from JC Gotinga/Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.