COTABATO CITY — Three units of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division got special awards during Wednesday’s 87th Anniversary Celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for dismantling two major fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sultan Kudarat province.
The 603rd Infantry Brigade and its 7th and 37th Infantry Battalions each got the AFP Campaign Streamer for having decimated the NPA fronts by armed warfare and community peacebuilding projects supported by local government units (LGUs).
Both fronts, feared for ruthlessness on communities that deny NPA guerillas sanctuaries, have a reputation for attacking business establishments and public transportation whose owners refuse to pay “protection money” on a monthly basis.
The three units are under the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, based in Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, and cover six provinces and five cities in central Mindanao.
Major Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the 6th ID, said Friday they were elated with the citation by the AFP’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro of a Campaign Streamer.
Local executives in Sultan Kudarat confirmed that Col. Michael Santos, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, and Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar and Lt. Col. Frederick Chicote of the 37th and 7th IBs, respectively, were instrumental in securing the surrender of more than 50 NPAs, among them senior commanders, since January.
Personnel of both battalions had killed 19 NPAs, seven of them experts in the fabrication of improvised explosive devices, in encounters in upland areas in Sultan Kudarat in the past 11 months.
Many of the NPAs who have returned to the fold of law through the joint intercession of municipal governments and the military had been reintroduced to mainstream society, according to Galido. (John Unson)