Governor Roel Degamo has welcomed the redeployment of the 15th Infantry Battalion to Negros Oriental, saying that words are not enough to express the gratitude of Negrenses for their return to help in the fight against insurgency.
The 15th IB was assigned to Negros Island several years ago before it was transferred to Mindanao, where the battalion had remained and had even participated in the Marawi City siege and post-war operations.
During arrival ceremonies Saturday, the governor said he was aware that the 15th IB was highly skillful and battle tested, but he was hoping their deployment in the province would sustain and enhance the declaration of Negros Oriental as a conflict-manageable and development-ready province.
Degamo said he was looking forward to the continuation of various programs and projects geared towards a peaceful resolution of the insurgency problem through Bantay Bayanihan and Lakbay Aral activities, among others.
The governor said there was no more reason for the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) and the government to go to war because they have the same vision and mission of uplifting the quality of life of the people, especially the poor.
Degamo reiterated that nobody would win this war through bullets, but rather through programs and projects for the people.
Brig. Gen. Eliezer Losañes assured Degamo that the 15th IB will perform as expected, or as excellently as they have performed in their previous assignments.
The 15th “Molave Warriors” Battalion of the 3rd ID Spearhead Division served Negros Oriental for six months in 2008 and was redeployed in September 2008 to combat operations against the MILF in Lanao del Sur where it had five encounters, resulting in major casualties of the lawless MILF group.
It was pulled out from Lanao and transferred to the Mindanao peninsula. During the Marawi siege, two rifle companies and a mortar platoon were deployed to join the other AFP forces to fight the Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and some alleged foreign terrorists.
The unit was able to accomplish its assigned mission, but had six army troopers killed in action, and 41 wounded in action. The battalion had recovered three high powered firearms, four low powered firearms, and 15 explosive devices and rescued 43 civilians from the main battle area.
With these accomplishments, four officers and 97 enlisted personnel were recommended for the award of gold cross medals and the award of Kamagi Order of Lapulapu, while seven personnel received seven pistols and PHP 100,000 cash from President Rodrigo Duterte. Three officers were given the privilege of a vacation in Hong Kong.
After the liberation of Marawi, the 15th IB was redeployed to Eastern Mindanao to conduct military operations against guerillas in Orakan valley before being sent back to Negros.
The Army commander, Brig. Gen. Losañes, said the 15th IB is in a state of high morale and is glad to be part of efforts to sustain a peace and conflict manageable development ready province.*PNA
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