“They died as heroes protecting the people of Cauayan.”
That is how the Army described Cpl. Alaster Balboa from Zamboanga City and Sgt. Jhoem Meguillo of North Cotabato who were on board a motorcycle when they were ambushed by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Cambaga, Brgy Yao-Yao, Cauayan, Negros Occidental, on Black Saturday, April 3.
After a send-off ceremony at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, the remains of the two 15th Infantry Brigade soldiers were transported on a military aircraft to their families in Zamboanga City and North Cotabato on Easter Sunday, April 4.
The soldiers were gathering information in support of the Army’s Community Support Program (CSP) teams when they were ambushed by the NPA terrorist, Maj. Cenon Pancito, Army 3rd Infantry Division information chief, said.
Barangay Yao-Yao is one of the areas in Negros Occidental where NPA terrorists thrive. The CSP operations in the area greatly affected the communist terrorist groups, he said.
“Our soldiers sacrificed a lot and risk their lives in the service of the country to protect the people in Negros so we can have peace”, Lt. Col Erwin Cariño, 15IB Commanding officer, said.
“We honor the heroism and sacrifices of our fallen comrades and will ensure that justice will be served,” Cariño added.
The Army will remain steadfast and strong in its commitment to ensure the safety of the Negrenses and in eradicating the terroristic influence of the NPA, he said.
Col. Leonardo Peña, 302nd Brigade Commander, said he condemns “this barbaric act perpetrated by the CPP-NPA terrorists, in their desperation to hamper the peace and progress brought by the presence of our soldiers in the communities through various activities of our Community Support Operators in the area”.
“These senseless attack proves once again that these communist terrorist groups are human rights violators. Our slain soldiers are just doing their job to help in the progress of the communities in the far-flung barangays. Their ultimate sacrifice in the name of service to God, to our country, and to our people will not be put in vain, for we will legally seek justice and file the appropriate criminal case to those culprits,” Peña added.*