Army honors ‘fallen soldiers’ in Himamaylan clash

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) lauded the heroism, bravery, and selfless dedication of the 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) in the recent clash against the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on April 19.

2nd Lieutenant Ralf Amante Abibico, platoon leader of 94th IB Charlie Company, Corporal Joel Nobleza, and Private First Class Carl Venice Bustamante were killed in the encounter when they responded to reports about the alleged extortion and presence of armed group in the area while they were securing the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the said village.

The soldiers were killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and hand grenades lobbed by the rebels.

Pasaporte said the troopers, whom he claimed as heroes, paid their ultimate sacrifice in protecting the people when they clashed with an undetermined number of NPAs.

He expressed his condolences and assured all necessary assistance and benefits will be extended to the bereaved families.

“Their heroism will never be forgotten by the people of Negros. It also motivates us to further continue our mandate to protect our fellow Negrense against this terrorist group and achieve genuine peace in the island,” he said.

Meanwhile, Corporal John Cris Laus, Private First Class John Paul Geonzon, Corporal Lismer Jade Tumayao, and Private First Class Alexis Mepranum were wounded in the battle.

The wounded soldiers are all in stable condition in a hospital here.

Major General Eric Vinoya, commander of 3rd Infantry Division (ID), condemned the “cowardice and the dastardly act” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA.

He expressed his deepest thoughts to the families, relatives, and friends of those who made the supreme sacrifice.

“The incident vividly reminds us of the treachery and the true evil that resides in each and every heart of the CPP-NPA terrorists, as they have once again proven their outright disregard to established laws on armed conflict,” Vinoya said.

He added that the continued use of landmine against our troops is prohibited under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and this violation bespeaks of the cowardice and banditry of this terrorist group.

“To the families, relatives, and friends of our fallen soldiers, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies. They died protecting the people of Negros, they died as heroes,” he said.

These terroristic acts motivate us further to press on and finish the fight, he added.

He assured that the Army will hunt down the NPA.