By Bonita Ermac
ILIGAN CITY – Three widows of Marawi heroes who fought and died during the Marawi siege in May, 2017 are among the 649 newly ranked Privates of the 1st and 11th Infantry Divisions, and 55th Engineering Brigade who are now ready to serve and defend the country.
During the Closing and Entrustment of Firearms ceremony held at the1st Infantry (Tabak) Division headquarters on Wednesday, the new soldiers were assigned to the 1ID, 11ID based in the province of Sulu, and the 55th EBde based in Iligan City.
The three Marawi widows-turned-soldiers are Private Grace P. Allaga, wife of late Corporal Ardnie R. Allaga, assigned with 10IB; Private Merzie G. Rogador, wife of late Private First Class Eldon C. Rogador, assigned with 51IB; and Private Christine Mary E. Montero, wife of late Corporal Marjone G. Montero, assigned with 51IB.
Rogador’s husband was the cousin of the late Private First Class Bayot, the one who called for artillery fires in his location. Both of them were at the same team and died during the siege. Montero’s husband also died while fighting the terrorists in Marawi’s main battle area.
Allaga’s husband died in August, 2017, when the troops in Marawi were gaining grounds, and captured the strategic locations of the Maute Terrorist group.
The three widows voluntarily joined the ranks through special enlistment.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur M Tan and Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor J. Yu led the Ceremonial Entrustment of Firearms.
The ceremony, which was steered by civilian stakeholders, symbolized the people’s trust and confidence on the new soldiers to carry firearms so they could perform their mandate in serving the people and securing the land.
According to Tan, the ceremony is an acknowledgement that peace cannot be achieved by a single organization or branch of government. The Army also needs the civilians and government agencies/units to accomplish the endeavour.
Yu emphasized the importance of the newly entrusted firearms to the soldiers and how great their responsibility is in protecting their constituents and the country.
Maj. Gen. Roberto T Ancan, Commander of 1ID, thanked the Division Training School personnel for shaping the trainees into competent, capable, and equipped soldiers.
Ancan also recognized the parents of the recruits for their continued trust and support of the Philippine Army.
He assured them that the new soldiers are now transformed with the ideals of honor, commitment, and service before self.
“To the Privates, do well in your job. Be passionate and dedicated in performing your duties and responsibilities. Apply what you have learned during your training and uphold the virtues of a true soldier,” Ancan said.
The Privates will still undergo a mandatory Infantry Operations Course prior to their deployment to the field to further equip them with knowledge and skills of an infantryman and train them to adapt to the challenging operational environment in Mindanao.