Benito T. de Leon
|Benito T. de Leon|
In army bush coat uniform wearing a Maranao Sultan cap (October 2008)
March 21, 1960 |
Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Philippines
|Years of service||
1981 – present
|Unit||1st Infantry (Tabak) Division|
Benito Antonio Templo de León (born March 21, 1960) is a military officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while a Roman Catholic was conferred the rare Muslim-Maranao honorary title of Sultan a Romapunut for his peace efforts. De León holds the Army rank of Major General and is the commander of the Philippine Army Training and Doctrine Command. Prior to his current assignment, he was the commander of the 104th Infantry (Sultan) Brigade, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army assigned in the Province of Lanao del Norte of Mindanao, the southern-island of the Philippines. He assumed command of the brigade after armed lawless groups pillaged the coastal towns of Kauswagan and Kolambugan on August 18, 2008. His former unit is currently tasked to hunt down the outlaws, and assist in bringing stability to the region experiencing a lingering animosity between the Christian and Muslim folks. 
Benito de Leon was born on March 21, 1960 in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. His father, Nicolas de Leon (1936–2010) from Alcala, Cagayan, was a Certified Public Accountant, who later taught in colleges and eventually retired as a banker. His mother, Fe Templo-de Leon (1929–1981), from Santo Niño, Cagayan, was a public school teacher. His maternal uncles, who were graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, served in the military until their retirement as general or flag officers: Army Brigadier General Cesar Templo, Class of 1954; Navy Commodore George Templo, Class of 1957; and, Brigadier General Emiliano Templo, Class of 1962.
De Leon is the eldest in a Roman Catholic family of seven which includes Police Superintendent Valeriano de Leon, also a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1989, serving with the Philippine National Police.
He is married to the former Annabelle Quinonez from Surigao del Sur with whom he has four children: Antoinette, Dyanne Lysette, Michael Henry, and Patrick Kevin. His first grandson is Michael Anthony.
He took his early elementary education at Saint Paul College of Tuguegarao and finished at Tuguegarao North Central School. He had his secondary education atSaint Louis Science High School of Tuguegarao and graduated in 1977. Thereafter, he entered the Philippine Military Academy as cadet and graduated with the Dimalupig Class of 1981. He took his Basic Infantry Course at the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning in 1987. In 2001, he topped the Philippine Army Command and General Staff Course. And in 2004, he finished the Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies of the Australian Defence College.
De Leon also holds a Master in Management degree from the Asian Institute of Management, a Master of Business Administration from the National College of Business and Arts, and Master of Arts (postgraduate) in Strategic Studies from Deakin University in Australia. He also finished the Freelance Writer Program through distance learning with the Penn Foster Career School of the United States of America.
De Leon's younger years in the military service was with the 12th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division posted as a company grade officer in Mindanao, particularly in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, addressing the separatist movement—the Moro National Liberation Front. His unit was eventually redeployed to Panay Island in the Visayas to deal with the insurgents—the New People's Army. After a study tour in he United States, he was assigned to teach at the Training and Doctrine Command of the Philippine Army. Much later, he took on junior staff assignments in the Army General Staff and then at the AFP General Headquarters primarily in the fields of Comptrollership.
Later, he led the 58th Infantry (Dimalulupig) Battalion under the 4th Infantry Division in Mindanao at the height of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hostilities in 2000 and was awarded the Gold Cross Medal for gallantry in action. At that time, he was conferred the Maranao honorary title of Sultan a Romapunut sa Lumbayanague in Lanao del Sur by the Muslims in the area for his peace efforts. 
After graduating and topping his class in the Command and General Staff Course, he was made to serve as Head of the Strategy, Warfare and Conflict Studies Department of the Army Command and Staff College; later, he joined the faculty of the AFP Command and General Staff College. His senior staff assignments include as the Executive Assistants to the AFP Chief of Staff and afterward to the Deputy Chief of Staff; as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Finance at the Department of National Defense; as President of a General Court Martial; and, as the first Chief of Staff and Spokesperson of 10th Infantry (Agila) Division.  
Just prior to his present duty, he served as Commander of Joint Task Force General Santos City (GENSAN) confronting terrorist threats in the area.   He is now the designated Commander of 104th Infantry (Sultan) Brigade based in Iligan City and covering Lanao del Norte. His unit is presently tasked to pursue the lawless group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which pillaged the coastal towns of Kolambugan and Kauswagan; bring stability into the long troubled region of the Philippines caused by a Muslim separatist movement. As De Leon pursues the outlaws, he has continuously sought support of the different sectors of society to bring in developmental projects,  and heavily engaged in interfaith consultations and dialogues to create harmony between Christians and Muslims. 
Thoughts and views
De Leon, upon assuming command of the 104th Infantry Brigade, issued the following operational instructions he considered significant to mission accomplishment:
- Focus and put to bear all energies and resources to neutralize the lawless group of the MILF that have threatened the peace in Lanao del Norte;
- Enhance linkages with counterparts in all sectors to generate support in best attaining the mission;
- Support the thrusts of local government executives which are intended to benefit the people; and,
- In all undertakings uphold and protect the rights of the citizenry as enshrined in the Constitution by following the AFP Rules of Engagement, Human Rights, and the International Humanitarian Law.
- " ... that ultimately allowed this opportunity ... : for without His Will, how could this be otherwise." 
- "With Divine Blessings, I know we will all succeed in our noble endeavor." 
- "Media will always play a crucial role in attaining peace not only in Mindanao but in other conflict areas." 
- "Media’s presentations will always result into two sides: those who will be happy and those who will be irritated by it." 
- The final test of its work: “Will it be for the better good to the society... which we all have a stake in its future.” 
- "We have to put all our acts together if only to secure peace." 
- "Not only peace in our time for our sake, but for the future generations.” 
On role of the military
- ”As professional members of the AFP, we are duty bound to uphold and support the position as declared by CSAFP and then, standby and defend this assertion.” 
- ”Maintain our position at the AFP to remain apolitical and refuse to do anything that is in direct contrast to the Constitution that we vowed to serve, protect and defend." 
- ”To accomplish the mission of preserving the integrity of the state and protecting the citizens” 
- "Your military will always give high priority in ensuring the protection of the Filipino citizens whether they be Christians, Muslims, Lumads, or otherwise."
Notes and references
- Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines (1981). The Sword of 1981. Philippine Military Academy. An annual publication of members of the graduating class and other junior classes.
- Romapunut is a Maranao word to mean peacemaker.
- "Army sultan allays fears of Muslims" (Press release). Philippine Army. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- "Army Reiterates Support to Peace Efforts in Mindanao" (Journal). Mindanao Examiner. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "To uphold, protect rights of citizens as enshrined in our Constitution". Mindanao Scoop XLI (31). October 5–11, 2008. pp. 1 & 4.. This article contains the assumption speech of De Leon which is also available online from the Scribd website.
- The town of Santo Niño was formerly known as Faire.
- Police Superintendent is a rank equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
- Marallag, Nestor (1977). Louisian '77. Saint Louis College - Tuguegarao. Shows the pictures of the graduating classes.
- "Photo". Mindanao Scoop. XVIII (42). January 3, 1986. p. 1.. Photo caption: Brigadier General Benjamin Divinagracia, Commanding General of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division pins the Military Merit Medal on 1st Lieutenant Benito T. de Leon for exemplary performance as company commander during the anniversary of the 12th Infantry Battalion.
- Vanzi, Sol (January 2, 2000). "Lanao del Sur local peace councils proposed". Newsflash (Philippine Headline News Online). Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- Philippine News Agency (PNA) (October 28, 2008). "No discrimination in providing security to communities vs rogue MILF rebels — Army commander". The Balita Orgranization and the PNA. Retrieved November 1, 2008.
- Mallo, Carlo; Grace Plata & Ben Tesiorna (November 30, 2007). "No troop movement in Mindanao: military". Sun.Star. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
- Regalado, Edith (December 19, 2006). "3 NPA commanders killed in Sultan Kudarat encounter". Philippine Star. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
- "1Lt Cris Paul Agustin: "Matapang sa lahat ng bagay"" (Press release). Philippine Information Agency. April 12, 2007. Retrieved April 15, 2007.
- Tesiorna, Ben (April 8, 2008). "Task force gets tips from TFD". Sun.Star. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
- Laude, Jaime (July 20, 2008). "AFP: Security in Mindanao to improve with looming peace deal". Philippine Star. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
- Sy, Marvin; Jaime Laude; Roel Pareño; Jose Rodel Clapano (September 10, 2008). "GMA reiterates commitment to peace talks with MILF". Philippine Star. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
- "US military projects up in Lanao del Norte" (Journal). Mindanao Examiner. 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
- Uy, Jocelyn (November 23, 2008). "Road to be built in Lanao conflict areas". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
- "Thousands Attend Serviamus Assembly In Mindanao; Army Brigadier Seeks Help For Refugees" (Journal). Mindanao Examiner. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
- "Army seeks support of Lanao religious leaders" (Journal). Mindanao Examiner. 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
- "Army chief urges public support to peace efforts" (Press release). Philippine Information Agency. October 1, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2009. Remarks of Colonel De Leon available online from the Scribd website.
- "Peace is everybody's business, says Army brass" (Press release). Philippine Information Agency. October 6, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- "'Sultan Brigade' commander appeals for actions, words, that erase discord, contribute to peace". Mindanao Scoop XLI (31). October 5–11, 2008. pp. 1 & 5..
- Philippine News Agency (PNA) (November 3, 2008). "AFP duty-bound to uphold Constitution — Col. De Leon". The Balita Orgranization and the PNA. Retrieved January 13, 2009.
- Jacinto, Al (October 28, 2008). "Army reiterates peace efforts in Mindanao". GMA Network. pp. Regions>Mindanao. Retrieved January 11, 2009.