AFP Chief revisits famed battleground in Basilan, honors comrades

Photos by SN1 Donald Viluan PN/PAOAFP

Days before his retirement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff visited Isabela, Basilan where he and his comrades bravely fought Abu Sayyaf terrorists that earned him the Medal of Valor.

General Cirilito Sobejana led the unveiling and blessing of the battle site marker in Sitio Caro, Barangay Kapayawan on Wednesday, July 28.

“More than 26 years since that decisive encounter, we are gathered here today to commemorate and remember our comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice. This marker is truly a fitting symbolism of courage, hope and selflessness,” General Sobejana said.

The AFP Chief who was at that time the Commanding Officer of the 1st Scout Ranger Company of the Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment led troops in fighting 150 Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang members in January 13, 1995.

Then Captain Sobejana controlled all fire direction against the enemy even after sustaining wounds that almost severed his right arm. He was later conferred the Medal of Valor for his gallantry in 1996.

During the ceremony, General Sobejana expressed his gratitude to the members of the 101st Infantry ‘Three Red Arrows” Brigade, Philippine Army led by Brigadier General Domingo Gobway. He credits the unit as an important part of his career which gave him his second life.

“Let us draw inspiration from the experience of our brave troops, and let it serve as an enduring motivation for us to push further the continued preservation of peace and a secured and progressive way of life in this region,” he said.

In the same day, General Sobejana made his farewell visits to Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City; 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in Maguindanao; and 601st Brigade in Tacurong City.

The 55th AFP Chief of Staff will retire from the military on July 31 after 38 years of active service.

“I only have a few days before I finally bid goodbye to the service, which I had faithfully served and dedicated more than half of my life. I am grateful for the trust, confidence and support the members of the AFP had accorded to me as their Chief of Staff,” he said.

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