By Jennifer P. Rendon
In 1974, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division came into existence as the Visayas region was grappling with poverty that was partly aggravated by the communist rebellion.
Forty-nine years later, Western and Central Visayas, the regions covered by the 3rd ID, have become two of the most competitive areas in the country.
Western Visayas now has the fastest-growing economy in the Philippines in 2022 while Central Visayas is the country’s fourth-largest economy.
“And this is just one of the gains that we had in almost five decades of the 3rd ID existence,” Major General Marion Sison, 3rd ID commander, said during the unit’s 49th founding anniversary on Wednesday at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.
He cited the continuous rebels’ waning support from and influence on the masses.
“For the record, five provinces were declared insurgency-free while another five provinces were declared as peaceful and ready for further development in 2015 and 2021,” Sison said.
He added that the 3rd ID has strengthened its thrust to deliver committed and relentless services, inherent to its constitutional mandate.
“Every Spearhead trooper has proved to be highly versatile and agile, delivering the things that the people expected from their soldiers,” Sison said.
For this year’s anniversary, the 3rd ID adopted the theme, “Strong, United and Reliable Spearhead Troopers at 49.”
Sison said that it is aligned with the Philippine Army’s thrust.
“Ang tatag, disiplina at pagkakaisa na ating ipinamalas ay bahagi ng repleksyon kung ano ang ating Hukbong Katihan ngayon,” he said.
Sison said that every Spearhead trooper contributed to the successes of the 3rd ID last year.
The scores of encounters resulted in the death of 49 rebels. Also, 149 rebels surrendered and 13 were arrested.
The military also seized 60 high-powered and 145 low-powered firearms.
Sison also bared six major engagements that transpired and led to the deaths of alleged high-ranking rebel leaders such as Rogelio Posadas, secretary of NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR NCBS); Juanito Magbanua, ROC Commander of KR-NCBS; and Ericson Acosta, secretary of the dismantled North Negros Front.
In June 2022, the Bohol Party Committee was also dismantled.
Sison also considered as another milestone their operations following the so-called Negros Massacre that led to the deaths of Governor Roel Degamo and nine others in Negros Oriental.
“Together with other law enforcement agencies, we managed to apprehend all perpetrators and helped restore the culture of peace in the province,” he said.
Despite these achievements, Sison enthused the 3rd soldiers to work harder to finally put an end to the insurgency problem in the Visayas.