April 2, 2023

Six Cordilleran soldiers perished in separate encounters of the Philippine Army against the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu and against the New Peoples Army in Negros Occidental.

Killed in action were four Cordilleran soldiers along with 11 servicemen from the 21st Infantry Battalion, who perished on April 17 during a fierce gun battle with the ASG bandits in Sulu.

Killed were Corporals John Michael Manodom, Jomar Niñalga, Rasul Ao-As, and Private First Class Benson Bongguic.

Another Cordilleran, Staff Sergeant Alexander Bolesa of the 12th Infantry Battalion perished while being treated at a hospital.

The bodies of the slain soldiers were brought to their respective hometowns.

The Army Scout Rangers had been maneuvering for an assault when they engaged about 40 ASG fighters allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham group at around 3 p.m. of April 17 at Sitio Bud Lubong, Barangay Danag in Patikul.

Manodom was the lead scout of his company and was the first to exchange gun fire with the group of ASG leader Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hajan Sawajaan, with the gun battle lasting for an hour. The government troopers were outpowered by the terrorist group, leading to the death of a dozen soldiers.

Ongoing Army offensives on April 22 led to the killing of at least three ASG members identified as Guro Khalid, Udal Muhamadar Said, and a certain “Budah” as their bodies were recovered from the scene. The Army reported there might be other members killed while eight other soldiers were wounded during the offensive.

On April 19, another Cordilleran son, 2nd Lt. Ralf Amante Abibico, of Monamon Sur, Bauko, Mountain Province was slain along with two other soldiers in a clash with suspected members of the NPA in Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

The NPA rebels have detonated a landmine while the soldiers were conducting community security patrol to assist the local government unit in the distribution of social amelioration program fund to the barangays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abibico was a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Alab Tala” Class of 2018.

He will be posthumously promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. – Ofelia C. Empian