Army eyes ending insurgency in Negros Island by end-2023

Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, in a media interview during the 37th founding anniversary of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Murcia, Negros Occidental Thursday. (Glazyl Y. Masculino Photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) said it is eyeing to declare Negros Island insurgency-free by the end of this year.

In a media interview during the 37th founding anniversary of 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) in Murcia, Negros Occidental yesterday, Major General Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said that statistically, the local Army is “70 to 75 percent winning” against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Sison said the statistics were based on the number of surrendered and killed rebels, recovered firearms, and clearing of almost 100 percent of “NPA-influenced barangays”.

Sison lauded the 303rd IBde for its big contribution to ending the insurgency in the Visayas.

“It is but fitting to congratulate you (303rd IBde),” Sison said, adding that the 3ID received many awards during their recent command conference in the national headquarters because of the accomplishments of the 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) and 62nd IB in Negros Occidental under the 303rd IBde.

Sison said that only the 303rd IBde had four major engagements against the NPA.

“Meaning they were able to at least recover five high-powered firearms, killed or have surrendered five enemies for almost four consecutive weeks,” he added.

“For the first time in history ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), this is the only time that the Visayas command was the main effort of the AFP, as far as dismantling and ending the insurgency problem in the country. Nakatutok ang AFP sa Visayas,” Sison said.

Sison said the Army will always do its best in order to finish this kind of problem, highlighting the significance of the National Task Force – to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the best remedy to end the insurgency in the country.

“The active participation of the stakeholders, local governments, and the community are the main ingredients that we need to accomplish our goal,” he said.

Thus, he said that with God’s grace, he is optimistic that the war against the NPA will be over.

Sison is also hoping that by the end of this year or by the end of the quarter, the Army would be able to dismantle the existing guerilla fronts – Central Negros (CN) 1, CN2, and Southwest Guerilla Front affecting Candoni, Hinoba-an, Ilog, Cauayan, Kabankalan, and Sipalay (CHICKS) area on the occidental side.

He urged the 303rd IBde personnel to continue the conduct of operations and what they have started.

“Let us maintain and continue to press the fight. Hindi pa tapos lahat. Do not rest on our laurels,” Sison said, adding that this is the right time for them to finish the enemy and prepare themselves for territorial defense.

He also stressed the active participation of the local chief executives and other stakeholders as well as the community in addressing the insurgency problem.

“Hindi po namin matatapos ang laban kontra CPP-NPA without you. Kayo po ang boss namin. Kaya patuloy po ang suporta ng Army. We are bringers of peace,” Sison said.

Meanwhile, some local government units led by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson in Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City Mayor Filomeno Reyes in Negros Oriental were awarded for their valuable contribution and support to the Army’s campaign against the insurgency. Five soldiers were also commended during the brigade’s anniversary.

Lacson thanked the military officers and personnel for their selfless and courageous service in promoting peace and order in Negros island.

He also lauded the brigade for their excellent service, not only in line with promoting peace but also in times of disasters and calamities.

“May God continue to bless and protect you, and may He sustain the gains of our endeavors for a more peaceful and progressive province,” the governor said.

The 303rd IBde’s 37th Founding Anniversary was themed “303@37: Unwavering Resolve in the Pursuit of Peace”.