By John Unson (The Philippine Star)
Photo: First Lieutenant Junrich Legada, a nurse in an Army Special Forces unit fighting the Maute group, planned to marry his girlfriend of 10 years immediately after their operation in Marawi City. File
LANAO DEL SUR , Philippines – North Cotabato is grieving over the death in Marawi City of another son, the sixth soldier from the province killed there in the line of duty since May 23.
First Lieutenant Junrich Legada, a nurse in an Army Special Forces unit fighting the Maute group, planned to marry his girlfriend of 10 years immediately after their operation in Marawi City.
“His girlfriend lost a good would-be husband and his family lost a member with good standing in the local community,” North Cotabato Vice Gov. Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva told The STAR yesterday.
Legada, born and raised in Midsayap, died last Friday in hospital, exactly four days after he was admitted for gunshot wounds.
Macasarte-Villanueva, from nearby Banisilan town, said like Legada’s friends she too is aware about his plan to propose marriage to his girlfriend as soon as the trouble in Marawi City wanes.
“The province lost another son. We are mourning his death. We lost in Marawi City six sons of North Cotabato who exemplified what ‘supreme sacrifice’ for country and God is all about,” Macasarte-Villanueva said.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño- Mendoza will extend cash assistance to Legada’s family and help facilitate his burial. The governor earlier extended help to the families of Capt. John Carl Morales, Sgt. Marlon Baldovino, Sgt. Eric Jason Coros, Sgt. Angelo Estores Jr. and Cpl. Elmer Bueno, all from North Cotabato.
They belonged to different Army units and perished one after another in encounters with the Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Marawi.
The five of them have all been buried in their hometowns in North Cotabato with traditional military burial rites attended by local officials, traditional Muslim and Christian community elders.
An unexpected reinforcement in the form of 2,000 bundles of food and letters of inspirational support from civilians came to the ground yesterday in Marawi to boost the morale of frontline troopers in fighting for the Islamic city’s freedom from the occupation of the Islamic State-inspired terrorist group.
Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the 8th Infantry Battalion, and his forces transported food packs containing fruits and drinks, which were accompanied by letters expressing love and concern for the soldiers.
In an interview over radio station dzBB, Cuerpo said the support came from civilian friends from all over the region, including Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, and as far as Manila.
“It showed the concern of the people and how (the soldiers) are loved, especially on this occasion of Father’s Day,” he said. – With Roel Pareño