• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The “peacekeepers” responsible for stabilizing the peace and order of Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental, during its infancy stage, were recognized and honored on February 3, by the administration of Mayor Laurence Marxlen dela Cruz, as the town marked its 40th founding anniversary.
The honorees were former members of the Army’s 78th Infantry Battalion, Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit, and police chiefs of Don Salvador Benedicto.
Dela Cruz and his younger brother, Vice Mayor Nehemiah Joe, led the awarding ceremonies to the peacekeepers formerly assigned in Don Salvador Benedicto, during the height of insurgency in the late 1980s.
Among the Philippine Army awardees were Maj. Gen. Camilo Ligayo, now the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division stationed in Samar, retired Brig. Gen. Lyndon Sollesta, retired Cols. Virgilio Balatayo and Ruel Ebreo, retired 2Lts. Loreto Onday and Rolando Tiam, SSgt. Rodelio Famii and Cafgu Active Auxilliary member Rolando Castillo.
Except for Castillo, all other Army soldiers, both active and retired soldiers, used to be assigned with 78IB in Don Salvador Benedicto.
The police honorees were retired Col. Leo Agpangan, Col. Victorino Romanillos, Lt. Cols. Ariel Pico, Leonardo Angcon and Barry Villanobos. They all served as police chiefs of Don Salvador Benedicto.
Former Mayor Cynthia dela Cruz, wife and successor of her husband, Nemehias dela Cruz, who was also among the awardees, in her speech said that “all the dreams and goals we are aiming for in the past decades, is now a reality.”
She also thanked the taxpayers of Don Salvador Benedicto for prompt payment of taxes, which contributes a lot to the improvement of the municipality.
Other awardees were Misael and Basilides Delantar, Isidro and Ma. Ludes Alcorin, Romulo Prudent, Raquelyn Moises, Antonio Salazar Winifredo Talledo and Romeo Alcober, former municipal officials, and retired local government employees Pepito Liboon, Gloria Sajo, Valentin Demacias Jr., Guillerma Imperial, Teoduflo Caro, Elvira Olilang, Henriela Lamayo and Leopoldo Antemo.
Sollesta, in his speech, recalled the dream of the former Mayor Nehemias de la Cruz, to establish the “roads of peace” in Don Salvador Benedicto, which used to be the site of numerous gun battles between the New People’s Army and government forces, decades ago.
It is now a reality, he added.
You can travel now comfortably, with a feeling of security, even in the middle of the night, Sollesta said, noting concrete roads from Murcia – Don Salvador Benedicto – San Carlos City.
If you have good roads, it opens windows for tourism, helps improve the peace and order condition, as well as literacy capacity of the place, the Army general said.
Sollesta had been assigned in Don Salvador Benedicto for almost a year.
Forty years after its establishment in 1983, Don Salvador Benedicto is not only a top tourist destination, but the summer capital of Negros Occidental, because of its cool climate and scenic spots.
Don Salvador Benedicto, at 40, fuerte, Sollesta said.*