Cebuano father, a soldier, slain in Zambo clashes-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
FOR most Cebuanos, the clashes between government troops and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City seem far away.
But it has now acquired a face.
Petty Officer 3 Jose Audrey Banares, a 39-year-old Cebuano from Tabuelan, was shot during an encounter with the rebels while the Naval Special Operations Group (Navsog) Unit 6 faced the MNLF fighters last Monday dawn.
Banares’ body arrived at 3:20 p.m. yesterday in the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, where full military honors were rendered. He had left for Zamboanga five weeks ago.
“Mao pa gani pagikan. Pag-uli, lungon na (It wasn’t too long ago when he left. And now he comes home to us in a coffin),” said his wife Nene, as tears trickled down her face.
Before her husband died, she said that Banares told him about their mission past 8 p.m. last Sunday. She waited for Banares to call the next day. One of his colleagues gave her the bad news.
“What he did was a heroic act. He sacrificed his life for the sake of the country,” said Commodore Reynaldo Yoma, Naval Forces Central commander.
According to the Navforcen, Banares and 13 others were on board two boats and trying to intercept the MNLF fighters after receiving an intelligence report of a plan to march to the Zamboanga City Hall.
The government troops encountered 10 small boats and a Basnig boat. While they were verifying if the boats were their targets, the rebels allegedly opened fire at them.
A firefight erupted between Banares’ group and the MNLF.
The Navsog team prevented the rebel group from entering the city, but Banares was shot and later died.
Aside from him, there were six other navy personnel who were also wounded in the encounter, when they reportedly fought at least 100 MNLF followers.
Banares’ body arrived in a C-130 plane. His fellow soldiers then saluted, lifted the coffin and carried it to a hearse.
He was planning to request a transfer to Cebu after his assignment in Zamboanga, said his wife Nene, 34.
“Sobra siya kabuotan. Gikuha pa gyud ug sayo (He was such a good man. It’s a tragedy he died so young),” she told reporters.
The couple tied the knot last March 31, 2012 and has a two-month-old baby. Banares left for Zamboanga last Aug. 3.
Until a Navforcen officer went to their house in Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City to inform her, Nene did not know how the mission had turned out.
Banares was the youngest in a brood of nine. Two siblings serve in the Navy, one in the Army, and another one in the police.
Last night, Commodore Yoma led the funeral march in honor of Banares.
“Rest assured his family will receive assistance and his child will also get a scholarship,” he said.
To Lieutenant Junior Grade Mark Anthony Colina, Banares was a courageous person who sacrificed his life for the betterment of his family.
They worked together for five years in the Navsog Unit 5 based in Cebu.
“Even if we had problems, we pushed ourselves to go on missions in order to maintain peace and order in a community,” Colina said.
The clash between the government troops and MNLF has been ongoing since Monday and tension remained high in Zamboanga City as of yesterday.
The fight came on the day before both the government and MNLF were scheduled to resume the final leg of their peace talks.
For months now, the group has been making noise about the supposed failure of the peace agreement they signed with former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 11, 2013.