MANILA, Philippines — The bloody battle in Marawi City remains fresh in the memories of Filipinos in the Visayas.
Some of them are relatives of the soldiers and policemen killed in the five-month clash between government troops and members of the Maute terror group.
Despite their loss, life still goes on for the families left by the brave soldiers and cops who sacrificed their lives to liberate the now war-torn city.
One of them is Richard Vista, the father of PFC Johnro Vista, who was killed in battle.
Richard said that his son died after a bomb exploded at the building where he was located.
“Mahirap ma’am, mahirap matanggap, masakit eh. Hanggat nabubuhay ako ma’am hindi ko malimutan yan. Mabait na bata eh (It’s so difficult to accept because it’s so painful. I could never forget him while I am still alive. He was such a good child),” said Mr. Vista.
The grieving father recalled Johnro decided to stay in Marawi City to give his seat in the chopper to a wounded comrade who at that time needed to be brought to a hospital.
Richard is among the 25 families in the Visayas that received P50,000 each from Bro. Eli Soriano of Members Church of God International (MCGI).
Para sa akin, malaki na ito dahil gagawin ko itong savings para sa aking mga anak sa kanilang pag-aaral (For me, this is a huge amount. I will use it for the studies of my children),” said Jeryl Villanueva, wife of the fallen soldier, SSG Joseph Villanueva.
“Nagpasalamat din ako kay Bro Eli, kay Sir Daniel Razon. Kahit papaano makatulong sa amin yun magsimula ng negosyo (Thank you, Bro. Eli, Sir Daniel Razon. This will somehow help us start a business) ,” said Mr. Vista.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command thanked Brother Eli for the initiative.
“On behalf of the Central Command, we fervently pray that the utmost generosity of the UNTV led by Chief Executive Officer Mr. Daniel S. Razon and of course to Bro. Eli Soriano, be returned a hundred folds. And to our dear families and friends of our fallen heroes soldiers, rest assured that these soldiers have not died in vain. They indeed sacrifice their lives so that others may live,” said AFP Centcom Commander Paul Talay Atal.
The first batch of recipients received the financial assistance on the 2nd of December.
The donation was personally handed over by Kuya Daniel Razon to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., the commander of Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.
On the 11th of December, beneficiaries from Luzon also received financial assistance from Bro. Eli at Camp Aguinaldo.
Bro. Eli donated a total of P8.3M from his own savings to the families left by the 159 and 7 cops who died in the battle in Marawi City.
The said amount is aside from the P6 million donated by the UNTV Foundation to AFP, and P2 million to the Philippine National Police, which came from the proceeds of the Songs for Heroes 3 benefit concert. — Robie De Guzman| UNTV News & Rescue