Government forces on combat duty in mindanao. File Photo.
Government forces on combat duty in mindanao. File Photo.

TACLOBAN CITY, April 7 (PNA) – The Philippine Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) keeps its high morale despite all out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that killed

four of their comrades.

Lt. Col. Edgar delos Reyes, 34th IB commander, said the March 29 setbacks suffered from hands of BIFF in Pamalian village, Shariff Saydona, Maguindanao will not bar the 450 battalion members from fulfilling its mandate.

“The morale of our people continues to be high. This is an incident which will not deter our soldiers from performing their mandate of protecting the people and the state, the security and sovereignty of the state, and the national territory,” said De los Reyes, who heads the battalion based in Opong village, Catubig, Northern Samar.

According to De los Reyes their death is a heroic deed that the Samar provinces should be proud of. “The soldiers contributed significantly in the weakening of the BIFF.”

BIFF fighters.file photo
BIFF fighters.file photo

The unit killed the three BIFF leaders- Commander Bisaya and two more companions who were close relatives of another BIFF Commander Karialan and 13 other bandits were wounded in the hour-long firefight, De los Reyes recalled.

Bisaya was tagged as the one responsible in the merciless shooting of a Special Action Force commando from Silvino Lobos, Northern Samar in the recent encounter of SAF troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao as seen in a video.

The BIFF leader was also known as a notorious hitman of the group who was also responsible in the massive liquidations in Maguindanao.

“We hope and pray that this will pave the way for the realization of the long awaited peace in Mindanao,” De los Reyes added.

To recall, the Army’s 34th IB was deployed last month in Mindanao to support the all-out offensive against the BIFF.

The battalion was tasked to maintain peace and security in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and some parts of North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Meanwhile, the 8th Infantry Division based in Samar will give recognition of the soldier’s heroism, gallantry and for sacrificing their lives in service of the country.

Army Captain Andrew Linao, assistant 8th division public affairs office chief, identified the soldiers from 34th IB as Sgt. Robert E. Espia of forward support medical platoon, Private First Class Vincent Q. Gulla of mechanized battalion, Cpl. Faizal A. Julmain, and Private First Class Marlon E. Marino.

Linao said the families of the slain soldiers will receive monetary, housing and scholarship benefits. (PNA)