Retired army General Joseph Sevilla has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to recognize the heroic roles of thousands of citizen soldiers who similarly covered themselves with honor and glory during the Mindanao pacification campaign and other insurgency affected areas around the country.
Most Filipinos especially this generation did not knew that the big bulk of our brave fighting men who fought for our country’s freedom and democracy were not regular army troopers but citizen soldiers who were trainees and enlisted ROTC cadets.
Hundreds selflessly gave their lives so that we may be united and live peacefully. Our citizen soldiers manifested their real discipline, nationalistic spirit and love of our country.
Their roles during the conflict should be the priority policy direction of the Duterte administration in reviving the Trainee and ROTC programs of our armed forces. Sevilla said.
Sevilla recalled 48 years ago, the bloodiest Mindanao rebellion erupted in Cotabato in March 1973.
The army had only six combat ready regular battalions then and at that time, he was assigned with the regular 11th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army operating in Sulu.
The former President Marcos immediately ordered the activation of more than 30 Kamagong battalions composed of citizen soldiers to fight the war which spread almost one half of Mindanao and Sulu.
From the battlefields in Sulu.he was reassigned to the first army Kamagong battalion, the 12thInfantry Battalion the first army elements that landed in beleaguered Cotabato province on March 3, 1973.
As small unit commander, his battle scarred company lost 21 men who died in combat to include two officers, three still missing. and scores wounded in action.
After serving three to four years military service, the gallant citizen soldiers were reverted back to civilian status, some were enlisted while others were left unattended, many were not accorded the usual military honors and given full separation benefits according to his reliable sources, Sevilla said.
Knowing the great concerns of Duterte to our veterans, soldiers and policemen, we hope he will now recognize the heroic deeds of our citizen soldiers which our previous administrations defaulted or failed to do. Also, we hope that our armed forces and military historians will now acknowledge the citizen soldiers’ roles in the Mindanao-Sulu conflict and the rest of our country in 1970s, Sevilla added.