Noel S. Buan
Noel S. Buan.jpg
Buan as a Colonel in 2015
BornPampanga, Philippines
Allegiance Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Army
Years of service1984 – 2018
Brigadier General
Service number0-9140
Battles/warsCommunist rebellion in the Philippines
Islamic insurgency in the Philippines
Philippine Medal of Valor ribbon.jpg
Philippine Medal of Valor

Noel S. Buan is a retired Philippine Army general officer and a recipient the Philippines' highest military award for courage – the Medal of Valor.[4] Buan was captured and held by the communist New People's Army in July 1999 while serving as an intelligence officer with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command. He was released after 21 months of captivity in April 2001.[5] In 2004, while serving as commander of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion in Basilan, Buan orchestrated a military operation that resulted in the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Hamsiraji Marusi Sali and his brother Sahir.[6]

Buan retired from the service in April 2018.[1]

Early life and education

Buan is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy's Class of 1984.[7]


Capture by New People's Army

On November 8, 1999, then-Major Buan was abducted by the Melito Glor Command of the New People's Army while serving as an intelligence officer with the AFP Southern Luzon Command in Quezon. It was believed that he was targeted for capture due to the nature of his military duties and that he had sensitive information regarding the revolutionary movement.[8]

Buan was released after 21 months in captivity on April 6, 2001, in Oriental Mindoro.[9] Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, NPA spokesman, stated that Buan was steadfast in captivity and even managed to escape and evade his captors for 12 hours in December 2000. However, due to weakness, he was unable to make good his escape.[7] Despite this, reports of his going over to the rebel side were aired,[10] and he was debriefed after his release.[8] Buan subsequently returned to active military service.

Action against the Abu Sayyaf

Hamsiraji Sali
Hamsiraji Sali

On April 8, 2004, Buan, commanding the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion as a lieutenant colonel in Basilan, figured in a firefight with Abu Sayyaf leader Hamsiraji Sali and six others including Sali's younger brother Sahir, also called Yashier Sali. Hamsiraji Sali was implicated in the kidnapping of an American Jeffrey Schilling, the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnappings and had a $1M bounty on his head.[11] All six Abu Sayyaf members were killed. Buan's troops suffered one killed and four wounded, including Buan himself.[12]

Buan and one of his men, Staff Sergeant Leopoldo Diokno, were awarded Gold Cross medals, which were later upgraded to Distinguished Conduct Stars. In what would prove to be a controversial move, these medals were later further upgraded to the Medal of Valor, which was approved by then-Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[13]

Medal of Valor citation

Basilan Province – 4 August 2004

"For acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty during a one hour and half- encounter against undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf terrorists under Commander HAMSIRAJI SALI at Barangay Makiri in Lantawan, Basilan Province on 08 April 2004.

While serving as team leader of the assaulting elements of the First Scout Ranger Battalion, First Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command, Philippine Army. With his group, Commander SALI, including his brother Sahir SALI, was one of the most wanted terrorists groups sought by the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America due to involvement in the series of violent and heinous atrocities. Aware of the dangers of becoming a possible hostage victim himself, LIEUTENANT COLONEL BUAN took the risk of putting his life as a bait in order that Commander Hamsiraji SALI and his group will engage them. His innovation paid off after they were able to locate the specific location and even had the chance to talk to the enemies face-to-face that resulted in a close quarter battle. He personally engaged the group of Hamsiraji SALI in hand-to-hand combat. Despite the terrorists overwhelming advantages, LIEUTENANT COLONEL BUAN succeeded in reversing the situation by directing his men to aggressively engage and assault at all costs and to hold the line. This he did despite the wound on his right hand.

This display of exceptional courage motivated his men, including those wounded, to fight on. Unmindful of his personal safety, he rallied and stayed in the encounter site and supervised the administration of first aid and recovery of high powered fire arms. He did not leave the area until he was sure that the last wounded soldier was withdrawn and the dead bodies of Abu Sayyaf Commanders Hamsiraji SALI and Sahir SALI were recovered amidst the volume of fire coming from the enemy positioned in high ground. This encounter resulted in seven (7) terrorists killed, body counted, including the notorious SALI brothers, and the recovery of six (6) 5.56 mm M16 rifles, two (2) 40 mm Grenade launchers, one (1) 12-gauge shotgun, three (3) rounds 40mm grenades, hundreds of M16 ammunition rifle in seven (7) bandoleers, and four (4) combat packs with personal belongings and subversive documents.

By these gallant deeds, LIEUTENANT COLONEL BUAN distinguished himself in combat, in keeping with the finest tradition of Filipino soldiery."[14]


  1. ^ a b "AFPRESCOM Change of Command with Retirement Ceremony". Armed Forces of the Philippines. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ Philippine Army (31 January 2017). "Army dons star ranks to 14 new generals". Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  3. ^ Corgue, Gideon C. (17 March 2016). "Military officers inspire ROTC cadets to show love for the country". Government of the Philippines. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  4. ^ Jacinto, Al (29 April 2004). "Philippine Army Officer Awarded for Killing of Extremist Leader". Arab News. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  5. ^ Pablo, Carlito (7 April 2001). "The Torment is Over". Philippine Daily Inquirer. p. 1. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ Bayoran, Gilbert (28 July 2014). "Valor Awardee Assigned Deputy Head of 303rd IB". The Visayan Daily Star. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b Villanueva, Marichu (8 April 2001). "Shampoo for Buan Gives Away Release". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  8. ^ a b Romero, Paolo (7 April 2001). "Ex-NPA Defector to Debrief Buan?". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  9. ^ Vanzi, Sol Jose (6 April 2001). "NPA Frees Major Buan After 21 Months". Philippine Headline News Online. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  10. ^ Vanzi, Sol Jose (10 March 2001). "NPA Prisoner Army Major Buan Joins His Captors?". Philippine Headline News Online. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  11. ^ United States Department of State. "Rewards for Justice: Hamsiraji Marusi Sali". Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  12. ^ Alipala, Julie S. (11 April 2004). "Abu Leader with $1M on his head slain in clash". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  13. ^ East, Robert (2013). Terror Truncated: The Decline of the Abu Sayyaf Group from the Crucial Year 2002. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-4438-4461-1.
  14. ^ Philippine Army. "Medal for Valor Awardees: LIEUTENANT COLONEL NOEL S BUAN O-9140". Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)