• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner yesterday challenged Brig. Gen. Marion Sison, newly-installed commander of the Army’s Infantry Division, to finish the fight against the New People’s Army in Regions 6 and 7.
As the new 3ID commander, Sison supervises nine Army infantry battalions, composed of about 4,500 soldiers, stationed in Negros, Panay and Bohol.
Brawner also rallied the support of various stakeholders in the peace and development campaign of the 3ID, AFP Visayas Command and the Philippine Army.
Working together, we will achieve more results in a faster manner, through the whole nation approach, the Army chief stressed in his speech during the change of command ceremony held at Camp Macario Peralta, in Jamindan, Capiz.
Under the one year and six-month stint of Lt Gen. Benedict Arevalo as 3ID commander, Brawner reported that the Bohol Party Provincial Committee, under the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor (NCBS), was dismantled in June last year.
He added that two other NPA guerilla fronts, the South West Front of KR – NCBS, and Central Front of Komiteng Rehiyonal Panay, were also declared as weakened, on top of many ranking rebel leaders in both regions that had been neutralized, after being either arrested or killed in gun battles, and the surrender of hundreds of their members and supporters.
Brawner also noted the successful implementation of the 3ID mantra “Loved by the People, Feared by the Enemy,” which was introduced by Lt. Gen. Arevalo during his stint as commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.
With a very strong team of AFP Visayas Command, Brawner said he is confident that VISCOM under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Arevalo will also finish the fight against the NPA, especially in their remaining bastions in Samar and Negros.
Two Army battalions and a company of elite Scout Ranger troopers were recently dispatched from Mindanao to Samar.
In his acceptance speech, Sison said he will continue to the implement the 3ID mantra, started by his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Arevalo.
To the remaining active NPA members, Sison said he is supporting the local peace engagements, as he encouraged rebels to surrender to avail of and enjoy the benefits of the government Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E -CLIP).
But for those, who will continue to enhance terrorism, I can be your worst nightmare for the rest of your life, Sison stressed.
Arevalo said it was remarkably recorded that the 75 encounters in 3ID area of operations during the one year and six months, were all government initiated, meaning “we engage the enemy, before they engage us.”
The outgoing 3ID commander said he is optimistic that the momentum against the NPA remnants will be continued by Brig. Gen. Sison.
Arevalo stressed that he is not leaving the 3ID area of operations, but only expanding his AOR, being the new commander of the AFP Visayas Command, which has the immediate supervision also of Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Eastern Visayas, as well as Navy and Air Force assets in the region.*