20 Army soldiers in Iloilo clash get merit medal

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division awarded medals to 20 soldiers for their action in a recent armed encounter with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members.

Nineteen enlisted personnel and one officer from the 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion received the Military Merit Medal during the awarding ceremony on November 7 at the 61st IB headquarters at Camp Monteclaro in Barangay Igtuba, Miag-ao, Iloilo.

Major General Benedict Arevalo, 3rd ID commander, pinned the medal to awardees who were cited for their involvement in a clash that killed two NPA members on October 28 in the vicinity of the Maasin Watershed Forest Reserve in Maasin, Iloilo.

It was earlier reported that the encounter happened at the nearby Barangay Umingan in Alimodian town but the 61st IB later learned that the encounter site is part of the Maasin Watershed Forest Reserve.

Arevalo has lauded the bravery of the operating troops that contributed to the government’s campaign.

“Remember that the success of this operation is a team effort of the troops and the people who persistently give information on the location of the enemies,” Arevalo said.

The 3rd ID top officer also acknowledged the excellent intelligence, mentoring, planning, command and control, and team effort of the troops in the operation’s success.

The military leadership no longer named the rebels but said they were members of the Sibat (SYP) Platoon of the NPA’s Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay.

Aside from the two bodies, the troops also recovered two M16 arms kite rifles, four backpacks, a rifle grenade, a bandolier, five rifle magazines, a stethoscope and subversive documents.