MANILA, Philippines — The heavy rain that fell on the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Sunday afternoon could not muffle the wails of the relatives of the seven Marines killed in Saturday’s encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.
Amid thunder and flashes of lightning, the remains of the junior Marine officer and six other government troops were brought to Metro Manila from Zamboanga City through a C-130 aircraft.
After the aircraft landed around 4:30 p.m. at the tarmac of the Villamor Air Base, seven flag-draped caskets were carried off from the aircraft one by one in front of the members of the Philippine Marine and the Philippine Navy who stood there to render the arrival honors.
The relatives of those killed namely 2Lt. Alfredo LorinVI, and Privates First Class Andres Bogwana, Rene Gare, Roxas Pizarro, Jayson Durante, Jay B. Alasain, and Dominador Sabejon, went to see the caskets.
The media were kept at bay and were not allowed by the military officials to interview the soldiers’ relatives who pleaded to the media for time to grieve.
The seven soldiers were killed in what was earlier reported as an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf faction holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani in Patikul, Sulu, on Saturday morning. Four members of the ASG were reportedly killed.
The police later said that what took place on Saturday was an ambush by the terrorist group.
“In behalf of the officials of the Philippine Marine Corps, we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the soldiers killed,” 1LT Vladimir Cabrera of the Philippine Marine Corps’ public affairs office.
The remains of the fallen soldiers would be brought to the Marine headquarters at the Fort Bonifacio for a hero’s welcome to be attended by top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The moment the hearses left the Villamor Air Base an hour later, the rain stopped pounding.