The famous and controversial Army colonel, Noel Buan, a Medal of Valor awardee, is back in Negros, this time for a higher position.
Buan replaced Col. Ray Banares as deputy commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade. He is not a stranger to Negros, since he was then commander of the elite 1st Scout Ranger Battalion in 2005, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He occupies the second highest position in the 303rd IB, that supervises more than 1,000 troops in Negros Occidental.
Banares, on the other hand, has been transferred to the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz.
Military records show that Buan was conferred the MOV for “acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” during the almost two hours of encounter against Abu Sayyaf bandits in Lantawan, Basilan, on April 8, 2004.
Despite an injury in his right hand, Buan rallied his men to sustain the fight, to the extent of engaging the bandit group, headed by Hamsiraji Sali and his brother, Sahir, in hand-to-hand combat. Before the gunbattle, Buan risked his life and posed as bait so that bandits will engage them in a firefight.
Buan stayed in the encounter site and supervised the administration of first aid treatment to his injured men, military records also showed.
The encounter claimed the lives of Hamsiraji Sali, his brother Sahir, and five others, and led to the recovery of six M16 assault rifles, two 40MM grenade launchers and hundreds of ammunition, among others.
The Philippine Medal of Valor is the highest military award given to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Other recipients included former Army chief, Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz, Col. Cirilito Sobejana, who used to be assigned in Negros Occidental, and former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved the granting of the MOV to Buan despite opposition.
Buan had also been a captive of the New People’s Army in Mindoro for 22 months, more than a decade ago. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1984. Col. Jon Aying, 303rd IB commander, and Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, AFP deputy chief of staff for Operations, are among his classmates.
Buan is reportedly being groomed to replace Aying, who is due for promotion to brigadier general.*GPB
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