Basilan blast: 11 dead heroes
LAMITAN CITY — The 11 people dead and 9 wounded in a massive explosion in this major Basilan city on July 31 had been declared as heroes as officials struggled to bring comfort to relatives and honor to those who died in what had been termed as the country’s first suicide bombing.
“It is sad that many of those who were buried…,” said Lamitan Mayor Rose Furigay, interrupting her statement to clear her throat. “They just buried parts of bodies but we have the names for Lamiteños to remember,” she said, using the name for residents of the city.
Furigay said the city government planned to declare July 31 as a day for the 20 heroes.
She said the people of Lamitan would be forever grateful to the 11 people who died and 9 others who were wounded to save thousands of others from the terror attack. The dead included a 6-year-old boy.
The dead included Pfc. Jumah Ammad; militiamen Muid Manda, Hermillo Gapo, Omar Titing and Adzlan Abdulla; and civilians Rosa Lipayo Inso, Angelina Inso, Radiya Manda, Rosida Titing and her son, Gary Titing, 10.
The wounded were militiamen Wilbert Garcia, Gerry Inso and Gregorio Inso; 1st Lt. Rojean Rodriguez; Sergeants Renante Escanan and Mike Elumba; Cpl. Romeo Tabon Jr.; Pfc. Jeffrey Martecio and civilian Rudy Frias.
Furigay said she could hardly believe that “there are still people who could commit such horrible acts” against the innocent and “there are people, despite the looming danger, committed to help even if it cost their lives.”
She said the 20 Muslims and Christians hit by the blast saved thousands of lives at the culmination of a nutrition program in Lamitan.
On the day of the attack, at least 4,000 schoolchildren, teachers, parents and government employees had assembled as early as 6 a.m. on the streets of the city for a parade.
Furigay said if the militiamen and soldiers manning the patrol base that was hit by the blast “failed to halt that van, we could have thousands of people dead on the streets of Basilan.”
“They are our new heroes,” she said.
Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which included Basilan, offered a “duwaa,” or gathering for prayer for relatives of those who died. —Julie Alipala
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