Moms, widows of soldiers appeal for end to fighting
LEGAZPI CITY—It was sunny in this Albay capital on Tuesday, providing a stark contrast to the gloom that greeted the remains of two Bicolano soldiers killed in the battle to retake Marawi City from Islamic militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).
Slain Private 1st Class Bernie Jon Lunas, a native of Bacacay town in Albay province, and
Cpl. Rolan Sumagpang of Ocampo town in Camarines Sur province, were given arrival honors by Naval Forces Southern Luzon after their caskets were unloaded from a C-130 cargo plane at the airport here at 9 a.m.
Evelyn Sumagpang said her son, as a boy, had dreamed of becoming a soldier so he could serve his country with pride.
More than an honor
“It is very painful to lose a son but what he did for our country was more than an honor,” she said.
She, like most widows and mothers of soldiers who died in clashes against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, was hoping that the conflict in Marawi would end so no one would die anymore.
Abegail, Sumagpang’s widow, said she could not accept that she lost her husband. She said she would raise their
5-year-old daughter on her own.
Abegail said her husband never failed to send her text messages to tell her he loved her, even in the middle of chaos in Marawi.
She said she believed that President Duterte would keep his promise to help her and other widows of soldiers who died in Marawi.
One of the best
For 1Lt. Joel Pedregoza, Civil Military Operation Officer of the Army’s 22nd Infantry Battalion based in Pili town in Camarines Sur, said 1Lt. Carl John Morales, one of the slain soldiers in Marawi, was among the best.
Morales, formerly belonging to the 902nd Infantry Brigade in Camarines Norte, was a reliable officer, Pedregoza said.
“He was a happy person and he loved watching [basketball] games [on television],” he said.
Morales, a bachelor and a native of North Cotabato province, was the commanding officer of 49th Infantry Battalion Bravo Company that was sent last year to Mindanao to fight the Maute group.
Pedregoza said Morales, during his stint in Bicol, was active in the fight against communits rebels.
“The death of our comrade is very painful on our part. He was like a brother to me. I salute him for his bravery in defending our nation from terrorists,” he said.
Slain Pfc. Reymart Carloto, a member of the Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion who died in Marawi, was also given a hero’s welcome as his remains were brought home on June 5.
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