New 62nd IB chief told to end armed conflict in central Negros

Lieutenant Colonel Evelio Ilanga III (left) officially assumes command of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB), succeeding Colonel William Pesase Jr., during the change of command ceremony presided over by Major General Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID), at the 62nd IB headquarters in Barangay Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of 62nd IB)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Major General Marion Sison, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), has tasked the new leader of the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) with eradicating the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Central Negros, aiming to reduce their numbers to “zero” and to put an end to the local armed conflict.

During the change of command ceremony held last Tuesday at the 62nd IB headquarters in Barangay Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental, Sison delivered these instructions to Lieutenant Colonel Evelio Ilanga III.

The event was attended by Colonel Victor Llapitan, deputy brigade commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), and Police Lieutenant Colonel Alvimar Flores, commander of the 2nd Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (Nocpmfc).

Ilanga, previously the executive officer of the 303rd IBde in Murcia town, takes over from Colonel William Pesase Jr., who led the 62nd IB in Central Negros for over two years.

Sison noted the existence of merely seven NPA remnants of the now-defunct Central Negros 1-Komiteng Rehiyon – Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS), describing a previously cleared area as a “dangerous area.”

He emphasized the need for “deliberate planning and foresight to destroy them completely.”

Sison said the time has come to resolve local armed conflicts across Negros and the entire country.

In his inaugural address, Ilanga acknowledged the immense challenges and responsibilities that come with leading a battalion.

He emphasized that while there are inevitable difficulties, these can be addressed through collective effort and cooperation among the troops, local government units (LGUs), partner stakeholders, and the people of Negros.

Ilanga called for continued support, cooperation, and participation from all parties to achieve “Stable Internal Peace and Security” on Negros Island and urged the troops to stay committed as reliable partners in peace, security, and development.

Under Pesase’s leadership, the 62nd IB was credited with dismantling Central Negros 1, KR-NCBS, a milestone confirmed by the National Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee on October 9, 2023.

The unit’s notable achievements include 40 government-initiated encounters, resulting in three major engagements, the capture of 81 firearms, the surrender of 43 former rebels, and the neutralization of 35 NPA rebels, including the alleged secretary of KR-NCBS, Rogelio Posadas, who was killed in an encounter on April 20, 2023.

Pesase, in his farewell speech, commended the unwavering dedication and support from LGUs, government agencies, private stakeholders, and the citizens of Negros, which he deemed crucial in the government’s battle against the longstanding insurgency.

He highlighted how their collective efforts have not only safeguarded the community but also laid a foundation for enduring peace and security in Central Negros.

“Our collective efforts have not only secured the safety and security of our people but have also contributed to laying the foundation for Stable Internal Peace and Security in Central Negros,” he said.

Following his tenure with the 62nd IB, Pesase will be reassigned to the 3ID headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz.