BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Twenty Army soldiers, including a military officer, were conferred with Military Merit Medals on July 8 by Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry Division, at the 79th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, in recognition of their laudable performance that led to the capture of another ranking New People’s Army leader in northern Negros.
The encounter on July 6 between seven NPA rebels and 79IB soldiers led to the capture of Isabelle Necesario, deputy secretary of the dismantled Northern Negros Front, and the recovery of several guns and explosives, among other items, in Sitio Minatay Banwa, Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava.
As 3ID commander, Arevalo said giving awards is his obligation and duty, stressing that he wants to ensure that all his troops will always be in the highest state of morale, by giving them medals and due recognition.
“I came here, not to inspire you, to do more. On the contrary, I am more inspired by you,” Arevalo told the medal awardees.
Two other top leaders of Northern Negros Front were also neutralized last year by 79IB after being killed in two separate gunbattles last year.
Arevalo, who was accompanied by Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, were both accorded with traditional military honors by 79IB troopers, led by Lt. Col. J-Jay T Javines, upon arrival at their headquarters.
On the other hand, the remains of four rebels killed in an encounter with Army soldiers and police troopers in Brgy. Santol, Binalbagan, also on July 6, were already claimed by their respective families.
One of the four identified rebel fatalities was Nikka Ledesma Dela Cruz, 26, of Medellin, Cebu.*