All Souls’ Day commemoration becomes significant for families of war heroes » Manila Bulletin News

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By Francis Wakefield

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Tuesday said the commemoration of All Souls’ Day this year becomes doubly significant for the widows, orphans and families of 158 AFP and seven Philippine National Police (PNP) warrior heroes who died in Marawi City during the siege on the city by Daesh-inspired rebels.

Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr.

In a statement, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., said the Marawi siege, by far the longest armed conflict situation in post world war Philippine history, left a once peaceful and economically vibrant city in ruins and utter economic decay.

“The local armed conflict raged for more than five months and paralyzed the whole city and turned the lives of thousands of residents of the city and nearby municipalities in limbo,” Padilla said.

“There were many stories of gallantry and heroism that we witnessed in this conflict that showed the true courage and dedication of our troops to protect the lives of not only the Filipino people and their loved ones, but even their comrades,” he added.

Padilla said one of the war heroes, Captain Rommel Sandoval, commander of the 11th Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command, fought with the promise he would not let any of his men die.

“While on a mission to retake a five-story building, one of his troops got wounded and was trapped in the middle of the crossfire. Sandoval was determined to rescue the soldier. When he saw an opportunity, without hesitation he went to get the wounded soldier and bring him to safety but in the process got hit by enemy fire,” Padilla said.

“Until his last breath, Sandoval kept his promise to keep his men alive. Using his body, he covered the soldier from the overwhelming enemy fire preventing the bullets from further injuring his troop,” Padilla said.

Padilla said Sandoval left behind a wife who was anxiously waiting for a long overdue vacation abroad with her husband. She will instead stand vigil at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani this Undas.

Another soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice is 2nd Lt. Harold Mark Juan of the Army’s Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command.

Padilla said Juan already got wounded in action, but chose to return in the main battle area to fight the terrorists.

He said as the Marawi siege neared its end, the fighting remained to be a difficult feat. Juan was killed by sniper fire, leaving his fiancé behind whom he promised to marry once he gets back from Marawi.

“These are just few of the stories of heroism that soldiers have done while performing the mandate to serve the people and secure the land. And we would commemorate their sacrifices and honor each of our fallen heroes who fought not only in Marawi, but in various places in the country, this All Souls Day,” Padilla said.

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