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Saturday, September 21, 2013
"YOU did a good fight. We are proud of you,” a relative of Petty Officer 3 (PO3) Jose Audrey Bañares said as she took a final glimpse of him inside the flag-draped casket.
Nene, dressed in black, sobbed as she leaned forward to look at her husband for the last time, their two-month-old son in her arms.
Gunshots rang out as Navy officers executed a 21-gun salute in honor of the fallen soldier at the Mactan Island Memorial Garden yesterday morning.
Bañares, 39, was killed during an encounter with rebels in Zamboanga City last Sept. 9.
During the burial, Commodore Reynaldo Yoma, commander of the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen), presented a Gold Cross Award to Bañares’s wife.
It was the fourth time Bañares, a native of Tabuelan, Cebu, was awarded the Gold Cross, the fourth highest honor in the military.
A great loss
“It was just proper for us to give the Gold Cross award to PO3 Bañares for his heroism,” Yoma said in an interview with reporters.
He said Bañares, whose expertise was on explosive ordnance disposal, was a great loss to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“He had been in the service for 18 years and he had received several awards.”
Bañares had joined several combat operations as a member of the Naval Special Operations Group Unit 6.
Yoma said the soldier’s family will receive various death benefits from AFP.
He said children of soldiers killed in action also get a scholarship from the AFP.
Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, chief of the Philippine Navy, handed a check worth P150,000 to Nene when he visited the soldier’s wake last Sept. 14.
Captain Ruel Isip, command chaplain of Navforcen, officiated the interment mass at the Navforcen chapel in Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City at 8:30 a.m.
The mass was followed by the funeral march to the Mactan Island Memorial Garden in Barangay Marigondon.
Three comrades of Bañares pinned their Navy Seal badges on the white casket before it was lowered to the ground. Nene released a dove.
Bañares’s family and relatives will remember him as a good man.
Arnel Bañares, 22, described his uncle as a generous and a family-oriented person.
“He was a good adviser, a good mentor and a good leader,” he told reporters.
He said Bañares was fond of organizing family gatherings.
Arnel said he hopes hostilities in Zamboanga will stop to prevent the loss of more lives.
Arceliano Bañares, 58, said he was proud of his youngest brother’s achievement.
“Bisan sa kasubo, proud ko niya (I am proud of him, in spite of my grief),” the retired police official said.
He said he did not regret his brother’s joining the military, saying the latter died a hero.
Bañares was the youngest among nine siblings. Three of his brothers also serve the AFP.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 22, 2013.