Junior officer slain in NPA clash an ‘achiever’
First Lieutenant Ralph Pantonial was an achiever and had a bright career ahead of him. But he was gone too soon.
The young lieutenant, commanding officer of the Charlie Company in the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion, was killed in the clashes with the New People’s Army in the rebel-infested Sitio Sapang Tin-aw, Pantukan, Compostela Valley on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 3. He was only 28 years old.
Pantonial and his men tussled with about 60 communist rebels for about 30 minutes. A bomb set off by the communist rebels killed him and his other comrade Private First Class Eulezys Bantulo. Two others identified only as PFC Sabido and Corporal Velunta were injured, said Captain Rhyan Batchar of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
The junior officer from Davao City is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2010, and finished 14th in the whole batch.
Before entering the PMA, he studied in University of the Philippines Mindanao for about a year. As a student, he studied in the Philippine Science Highschool in Davao, and spent his elementary days in Ateneo de Davao.
In the Army, he was a paratrooper. He also finished second in his Special Forces Operations Course in 2013.
He also earned a Gold Cross Medal, the third highest honor in combat, in 2014. He was recognized for their offensive operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Reina Regente in Maguindanao.
1Lt. Dave Aguilar, civil military operations officer of the 46th Infantry Battalion, a colleague, described Pantonial as someone who was “very focused.”
“He was very dedicated, very passionate. If he was on the job, he was very focused and mission-oriented. He also knows how to take care of his men,” he shared on Thursday.
To Pantonial’s friends, he had an outgoing and cheerful personality, said 1Lt. Kim Anosan, a classmate or mistah who was also assigned in the same battalion.
“He was outgoing, jolly….He was also generous to his family. He helped them with their needs,” he said.
The junior officer also had a girlfriend of seven years.
Anosan added that the slain military officer excelled in most fields and was very competitive.
Strangely, before he died, he had packed his things in his hut (room), something that he did not usually do.
“We found out today that all of his things in his room were packed and arranged, as if it was ready to be moved. I asked his men if he was always like that and they said he wasn’t,” Anosan said.
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