MERIT MEDAL. Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo (center), commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, pins the Military Merit Medal on a soldier of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in the presence of Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte (left), commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, at the battalion headquarters in Barangay Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental on July 24, 2022. The 62IB troops engaged communist rebels, resulting in the death of one rebel, in Barangay Sandayao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on July 20. (Photo courtesy of 62nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army) 

BACOLOD CITY – Eleven soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Isabela, Negros Occidental received the Military Merit Medal after carrying out a successful operation against the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on July 20.

The medals were awarded by Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, in rites held at the battalion headquarters in the town’s Barangay Libas on July 24, the 62IB said in a report on Monday night.

“This is a team effort where everyone contributed to the success of (the) operation. We should not forget the effort of the people who supported the operating troops in accomplishing their mission,” Arevalo said.

During the encounter in Sitio Taluktok, Barangay Sandayao, the troops engaged five communist rebels, resulting in the death of Pompeo Landesa, 56, of the NPA’s Central Negros Front 1.

Landesa was involved in various murder cases and violations of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition, the Philippine Army report said.

The 62IB soldiers also recovered weapons, among them a KG-9 semi-automatic firearm loaded with one magazine, one caliber .357 Magnum revolver loaded with three rounds of ammunition, and one hand grenade, as well as suspected subversive documents.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)