A total of 80 soldiers involved in central Negros clash that left 10 communist terrorists dead have received military medal of merit from Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Cirilo Sobejana.
Sobejana gave out the awards during his visit to the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) in Barangay Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental on March 25.
Capt. Cenon Pancito, public affairs chief of the 3rd Infantry Division, told the Philippine News Agency on Sunday that Sobejana thanked the troops for their efforts in bringing genuine peace for every Negrense.
“We are happy for the visit of no less than the father of the whole Armed Forces. It showed his utmost concern to all soldiers. It will always be a morale booster for every Spearhead trooper to see commanders on the ground. It was a pat on our back for a job well done,” Pancito said.
The recipients of the medal of merit were soldiers of the 62IB headed by commanding officer Lt. Col. Melvin Flores as well as troops of the 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company and the 16th Scout Ranger Company.
They clashed with some 40 Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) fighters in Sitio Agit, Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on March 23.
Ten rebels died while one was wounded after the three-hour encounter and the government troops also recovered 11 high-powered firearms.
Pancito said Sobejana, who hails from Negros, has seen the insurgency problem in the island first-hand.
“The successful encounter in Guihulngan is a big leap in our campaign to liberate Negros Island before the year 2022,” he added.
Flores said they condole with the families and loved ones of those who have suffered because of the selfishness of the CPP-NPA leaders.
“Once again we are calling on the remaining NPA rebels to surrender now along with your firearms and avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of our government. Otherwise, we have to enforce the full force of the law and protect the people,” added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Nanette Guadalquiver, PNA)