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Some troops leave ruins in Zambo, enter Bohol’s

/ 09:47 PM October 17, 2013

MEMBERS of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion pose for a souvenir photo before leaving Zamboanga City. JULIE S. ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Sgt. Aimer Salamanca smiled as he boarded a C-130 plane that will bring him back to his base in Samar on Wednesday noon.

After finishing the fight against members of a Moro National Liberation Front faction here, Salamanca, a member of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion from Samar, is facing another tragedy closer to home in Bohol.

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“We will be going home to a province hit by earthquake and full of rubble,” said Salamanca, who had been deployed to this city since early last month.

Salamanca’s family lives in Dagohoy town, just 4 kilometers from Carmen town, the epicenter of the 7.2-magnitude  quake that struck on Oct. 15.

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“I immediately called my wife and child. They are safe but they are staying outdoors,” he said.

Like Salamanca, Pfc. Alejandro Bautista, 27, of Danao in Cebu, is worried about his parents and siblings.

“The house of my sibling collapsed, it is no longer livable. I am worried for my parents,” Bautista said.

He said his mother was extremely worried when he was deployed to this city on Sept. 11 to fight followers of Moro leader Nur Misuari. Now, it’s time for him to feel the same.

“I want to return already. I am happy that I will be returning to our camp [in Samar], which is near Danao, so that I can help my family,” Bautista said.

Bautista said his parents and relatives are staying outdoors. “Just like evacuees. They have no electricity and they continue to feel the aftershocks. But what is important is that they are safe even if they are now homeless,” he said.

The 1st Scout Ranger Battalion helped secure the villages of Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Rio Hondo, which were occupied by Misuari’s men and became battlegrounds for several weeks.

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Salamanca, Bautista and their battalion left for Samar on Wednesday noon.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar, during Wednesday’s sendoff ceremony, said the soldiers “paid a very high price for saving our city.”

At least 19 soldiers were killed and 167 others were wounded in the fighting which lasted for weeks here.

“My gratitude, my thank you is not enough,” the mayor said. For Salamanca and Bautista, returning to their base in Samar is reward enough as this would bring them back closer to their families.

“That is enough,” Bautista said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Bohol earthquake, News, Regions, Zamboanga standoff
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