• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A total of 87 enlisted personnel and military officers assigned in various infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division in Panay have been conferred with medals by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Visayas Command, for gallantry in combat operations against the New People’s Army.
Viscom chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo led the conferment of Gold Cross and Silver Cross Medals during the awarding rites held recently at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.
Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander and concurrent chief of Joint Task Force Spear received the Gawad Kaunlaran Medal for his meritorious achievement on the implementation of various government peace initiatives in Western and Central Visayas, while Col. Melencio Ragudo, 3ID chief of staff, got the Meritorious Achievement Medal for contribution in enhancing the combat readiness of 3ID personnel.
The Gold Cross Medals were awarded to eight soldiers assigned at the 31st Division Reconnaissance Company, while Silver Cross Medals were conferred by Lt. Gen. Arevalo to 79 soldiers assigned at the 301st Infantry Brigade, 82nd Infantry Battalion, 12th Infantry Battalion and 61st Infantry Battalion.
In a statement issued by the 301st Infantry Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Michael Samson, the 87 awardees played a crucial role in successful encounters within the Iloilo province, particularly in Leon, Iloilo, which led to the neutralization of key NPA personalities in Panay, including Rebecca Alfaro, alias Jing, who was the secretary of the Komiteng-Rehiyon Panay’s Southern Front; Joven Ceralvo, alias Lex, the 2nd deputy secretary of the Southern Front, KR-Panay; Gerly Tejeros, alias Elay, the 2nd deputy secretary of the Education Department; and nine other NPA rebels.
Arevalo also conferred the Gawad Sa Kaunlaran award to 458 personnel of the 61IB for their meritorious and invaluable contributions to the AFP’s socio-economic and other non-combatant activities.
Samson commended the accomplishments of soldiers under the supervision of 301st Infantry Brigade in safeguarding the people of Panay and Guimaras Islands against NPA atrocities.
“May these awards inspire us to double our efforts and work tirelessly towards achieving a just and lasting peace,” he stressed.
In his message, Arevalo, who commended the unwavering dedication exhibited by the 301st Bayanihan Troopers in their efforts to locate and engage the remaining members of Kometing Rehiyon–Panay, called on the rebel remnants to avail themselves of government programs for former rebels.
“Rather than suffering the same fate as your comrades who wasted their lives fighting for a useless and futile armed struggle, decide and choose the path to peace while there is still time,” Arevalo said.*