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Monday, November 3, 2014

‘Slain soldier only wanted to serve his country’

By Alexis Romero
Publish in

MANILA, Philippines - Think 100 times before joining the military.
This was the advice of Cresencio Corpuz to his son Jun, the 22-year-old lieutenant who was killed in a clash with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sumisip, Basilan last Sunday.
“I somehow tried to prevent him (from joining the military). I told him to think 100 times before he enters the service,” Cresencio told The STAR yesterday.
Jun, however, did not mind the risks and remained steadfast in achieving his goal.
“His goal was to serve the country,” the elder Corpuz said.
The young Corpuz’s ambition to become a soldier started when he was in high school.
He spent two years studying engineering at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in La Union before entering the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
As a cadet, Corpuz wanted to become part of the Scout Rangers, an elite unit under the Army. While focused on his dream of becoming a defender of the country, Jun did not forget his responsibilities to his parents and his six siblings.
“He is a good son. During his four-year stay in the academy, he helped us finance the studies of his siblings,” Cresencio said.
A PMA cadet receives a monthly salary and allowance from the government.
The young Corpuz’s efforts paid off when he graduated 13th in the PMA “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014.
His military career, however, was cut short by a 45-minute clash with about 20 Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sumisip.
His team was patrolling a hillock overlooking the construction site of a local road project when the bandits attacked them.
Jun and five other soldiers were killed during the intense firefight, which happened as security officials claimed gains in their drive against the terrorist group. Only two soldiers survived the encounter, which started at around 7:30 a.m.
Cresencio’s last conversation with his son happened an hour before the firefight.
Unlike others who seemed to have bidden farewell to their loved ones, Jun did not say anything unusual to his father during that last phone call.
“He would call us everyday. Before that (encounter) happened, he called us at around 6:30 a.m. He did not ask us to do something,” Cresencio said.
“He just asked about his siblings. It was just the usual conversation wherein you ask about each other’s plight,” he added.
‘A good leader’
Sgt. Marvin Paragoso, one of the survivors of the Sumisip clash, said Lt. Corpuz was “a very good leader who can easily mingle with his troops.”
“He was a very caring person who readily listened and helped solve our problems. He always found time to interact with us during our leisure time,” Paragoso was quoted by Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc as saying.
“I will never forget a compassionate leader like him. True to his word, he left no one behind,” he added.
Paragoso recalled how Corpuz fought bravely despite being outnumbered by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Libug village.
He said prior to the encounter, Corpuz had decided to clear a high ground that could be used by the terrorists as staging ground for their attacks.
“All of a sudden, our leading elements were heavily engaged in an intense firefight,” Paragoso said.
“Positioned a few meters from the leading elements, Lt. Corpuz commanded us to provide supporting fire to save them. We fought hard but we were overwhelmed by their numbers,” he added.
Paragoso said he would remember Corpuz as an officer who died fighting to save his wounded comrades.

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