A public servant’s bravery and heroism can be assessed by his willingness to face risks in order to serve the homeland.
For example, when we were lieutenants in the First Scout Ranger Regiment, we were contending for the assignment in Basilan.
Unbeknownst to you, a few ambassadors from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) share similar courage in carrying out their sworn responsibilities.
Meet Pampanga Consul General Elmer Cato. He offered to go to a location where no one seemed to go. In fact, he chose to be sent to the area during ISIS’s conquest of territory in Iraq in 2015 in order to assist OFWs working in the town.
His experiences were revolting, such as the suicide bomber that leveled his apartment building. Rockets and bullets are launched almost every day.
Cato is one of six Filipino diplomats in Baghdad who agreed in 2015, at the height of ISIS’s onslaught in Iraq, that defending the embassy in the beleaguered capital would be preferable to being taken alive and publicly murdered by the marauding jihadists.
Cato revealed the agreement to fight to the death in a program on December 10 commemorating the 125th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s martyrdom, with a focus on his writings in La Solidaridad, which first appeared in print in Barcelona in 1889.
Cato went to Tripoli after three years in Baghdad. As he sought for the trapped OFWs who volunteered to repatriate and return to our village in the midst of the terrible conflict, he came close to dying.
Let us recognize the public servants who displayed extraordinary courage and heroism in serving our country on December 30, the martyr Gat Jose Rizal’s birthday. In the event of a major calamity, the army, police, PCG, BFP, and emergency responders are on the front lines.
There are also diplomatic mission public servants, such as DFA Consul General Elmer Cato.