Friday, March 16, 2018

Marawi ‘hero’ wounded for the 5th time

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16): Marawi ‘hero’ wounded for the 5th time

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, visits on Thursday SSgt. Antonio Basa at the hospital. Basa, who belongs to the Army’s 5th Scout Ranger Battalion, was wounded while leading a squad of soldiers who clashed on Tuesday with the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu. (Photo courtesy: Westmincom PIO)

Staff Sergeant Antonino Basa was one of the soldiers who was wounded in the encounter with the Abu Sayyaf bandits last March 13 in Sulu.

It was his fifth time to get wounded in a clash, the first was in Basilan, second and third during the Marawi siege and the latest was in Sulu during last Tuesday’s attempt of the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion to rescue kidnap victims, who were with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Brgy Panglahayan, Patikul, Sulu.

“We were tipped by the locals of the location of about 30 Abu Sayyaf Group members under Radulan Sahiron and sub-leaders Julie Ekit, Amlon Abtahi, and a certain Amah Asam, who were accordingly harboring in an area in Patikul,” Lt. Col. Marlo Jomalesa, 5th Scout Ranger Battalion commander, said.

“The 14th (Scout Ranger) Company where SSgt. Basa belongs was our main effort (lead company), and they were to hit the target slowly so that they can get closer and be able to see the enemy and the possible location of the hostages,” Jomalesa added.

By dawn break last Tuesday, the Scout Rangers were already crawling towards their objective.

Due to the difficulty of the terrain, they were able to come close to 20 meters to the enemy by noon time.

“Nakita na namin ang kalaban nung tanghali subalit maingat na maingat kami sapagkat iniisip namin ang kalagayan ng mga hostages,” Capt. Jay Maravillo, 14th Scout Ranger Company commander, said.

“Nung makita nila SSgt. Basa na di na pwedeng lumapit pa, at nasiguro namin na walang hostage na nakikita, nagkaron na agad ng putukan,” Maravillo said.

At that time, Basa was leading a six-man team who bravely crawled near the position of the enemy.

Basa and five others got wounded after the whole afternoon of firefight.

He was hit in the back portion of his head and was immediately evacuated to one of the hospitals in this city with another wounded companion.

The four others soldiers who sustained minor wounds stayed with the military hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, on Thursday visited Basa, who accorded the general with a salute despite his difficulty to move.

“I was emotional and so touched by his gesture to salute me even if he is still incapable of moving his hand and body,” Galvez said.

“It only shows that even in his subconscious, he still practiced the highest sense of honor, obedience and respect to his superiors and to the flag,” Galvez noted.

“I have given orders for my staff to work for the revival of his Medal for Valor award recommendation and for the other awards that are due to this battle tested brave soldier,” he disclosed.

“The wounds he sustained from combat did not stop his aggressiveness and his love for country to continue fighting the terrorists, despite his four other near death experiences,” Galvez added.

Basa’s wife, who just gave birth, is due to fly to this city to see her husband. They were blessed with three children.

The Scout Ranger Company, were Basa belongs, was recently reassigned to Sulu to augment the forces pursuing the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

His company was one of the many units deployed in Marawi City during the five-month battle to liberate the city from Daesh-inspired Maute group.

“Bilib kaming lahat kay SSgt. Basa, napakatapang at napakagaling nya,” Maravilla said.

Diko makalimutan yung isang nangyari sa Marawi na may nagsabi sa kanya na merong explosive sa kanilang dadaanan, at dinapaan nya ito para isalba ang buhay ng mga kasamahan, pero swerte lang na hindi pumutok,” he said.

One of his companions also said that in two instances, Basa was hit by shrapnel of Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) in Marawi, he just asked to be injected with the anti-tetanus vaccine and volunteer to fight against with his men after a few days.

“Madaming sumusunod sa kanya kapag siya na ang nag le-lead ng tropa. Talagang nangunguna, at walang takot. Lagi niya sinasabi na kailangan ako ng tropa ko,” the companion of Basa said.

Galvez also visited in the same hospital Private First Class (PFC) Vladimir Ramos, a marine who was wounded in a clash with the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Panamao, Sulu last February 11.

Like the company of Basa, the unit of Ramos, the 16th Marine Company was also deployed to liberate Marawi City last year.

Ramos, who is due to marry his long time girlfriend this June, fought with death for 16 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital after sustaining a gun shot wound in the head.

“Ang pagmamahal nya sa kanyang mapapangasawa at ang kagustuhan nyang matuloy ang kasal nila ang nagbigay sa kanya ng lakas na lumaban at patuloy na mabuhay,” said Mrs. Susan Ramos, the mother of Vladimir.

“Gusto nya na matuloy ang kasal nila kaya kahit na alam nya na parang imposible, lumaban sya at salamat sa Diyos, maayos na ang kalagayan nya ngayon,” Mrs. Ramos added.

PFC Ramos is one of the Order of Lapu Lapu rank of Kampilan awardees during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte last Saturday in this city.

It was his mother who received the award on his behalf during the awarding ceremony.

“I salute these soldiers for their bravery not only in combat but also while fighting in the hospital for their lives. Truly, they are our modern heroes of today, they are willing to die for our country and for the people,” Galvez said.

“I give my highest commendations to them. We will certainly work for the appropriate awards that are due to them,” Galvez added.

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