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Negros Oriental welcomes arrival of 15th IB to fight insurgency

Governor Roel Degamo has welcomed the redeployment of the 15th Infantry Batallion to Negros Oriental, saying that words are not enough to express the gratitude of Negrenses for their return to the island province 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 over the weekend, the governor said he was aware that the 15th IB was highly skillful and battled 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 was looking forward to the continuation of various programs and projects that are geared towards a peaceful resolution of the insurgency problem through Bantay Bayanihan activities, Lakbay Aral, 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 pronouncements nobody would win this war through bullets, but rather through programs and projects for the people.

Brig. Gen. Eliezer Losañes assured Gov. Degamo the 15th IB would 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 was serving Negros Oriental for six months in 2008 and 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 Mindanao peninsula. During the Marawi siege, two rifle companies and a mortar platoon were deployed to join with 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 with 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 the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte. Likewise, 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 peace and conflict manageable development ready province.

Juancho Gallarde / PNA