By Jennifer P. Rendon
“Finish the fight!”
Major General Marion Sison, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commander, has directed two new battalion commanders to end the insurgency problem in Panay.
Sison issued the marching order to the newly installed commanding officers of the 82nd Infantry (Bantay Laya) and the 12th Infantry (Lick ‘Em) Battalions during separate turnover of command ceremonies.
On Monday, Feb. 5, Lieutenant Colonel Jovert Pimentel assumed the top post of the 82IB based in Camp Colonel Quintin D. Salas in Sitio Asinan, Barangay Jibolo, Janiuay, Iloilo.
He succeeded Colonel Cliford Catubigan.
On the other hand, Lieutenant Colonel Vicel Jan Garsuta, who used to be the 3ID spokesperson, took over the command of the 12IB from Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Timbal.
The change of command rites was held on Feb. 6 at the 12IB headquarters based in Camp General Ceferino S. Careon in Sitio Guimbunyugan, Barangay Libot, Calinog, Iloilo.
Also present during the two ceremonies were Brigadier General Michael Samson, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, other 3ID key officers, local chief executives, and stakeholders.
Sison underscored that Panay is a sleeping dragon and the remaining bastion of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Hence, he directed Pimentel to work closely with the local government units, their counterparts, and stakeholders to facilitate the dismantling of the remaining weakened guerilla fronts in Panay Island.
He stressed that they could not accomplish the mission without the support and collaboration of the stakeholders and local chief executives, who serve as chairpersons of the local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).
“It is crucial to coordinate, cooperate, and maintain open communication with our partners, as they play a vital role in helping us bring an end to insurgency in Panay. It is essential to recognize that the resolution of this problem requires not only military action but also the effective implementation of Task Force ELCAC as the best solution,” Sison said.
The 3ID chief also had a similar order to Garsuta: dismantle the weakened Central Panay Front.
“Finish the fight. That’s my first order. Lick the enemy, totally decimate and eradicate them, in coordination with our partners – from the other government agencies down to the private, religious and business sectors. It’s a way for us to establish a just and lasting peace in Panay,” Sison said.
Meanwhile, Sison lauded the outgoing battalion commanders for their unwavering contributions in shaping the success of their respective battalions.
He acknowledged their tireless commitment, dedication, and guidance, which resulted in commendable milestones, as reflected in the numerous awards and commendations bestowed upon their units and the 3ID as a whole.
Last month, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declared that there are no more active NPA guerrilla fronts as of December 2023.