Defense chief pledges continuous hospital aid to ex-servicemen

DEFENSE chief Delfin Lorenzana on Friday, November 11, reminded thousands of retired and former servicemen in Northern Mindanao to make use of the hospitalization assistance from the government after the Department of National Defense and the Department of Health renewed their memorandum of agreement (MOA) in 2014.

The agreement, which aimed at partially shouldering the hospitalization of retired servicemen and women, was aimed to improve their and their qualified dependents’ access to quality health care.

Under the MOA, veterans can avail of hospitalization services in all public hospitals, especially those accredited with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

The PVAO will pay P1, 500 per day for up to 45 days per patient per year.

Lorenzana said he has also lobbied to the American government for additional cash aid to retired soldiers who fought side by side the US forces during World War (WW) II.

Lorenzana added the US Congress is still in its deliberation stage to give out “Congressional Gold Medal” to Filipino soldiers fighting the Imperial Japanese military in the war.

“If approved by the US Congress, our veterans will not receive cash but recognition from the American government,” Lorenzana said.

During the event, Lorenzana awarded plaques of recognition to five of the oldest veterans, four of whom were in their 90s.

Private Marcel Polonia was the only centenarian, at age 104, from Barangay La Fortuna, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

The other awardees were Staff Sergeant Marciano Avila, 99, of Barangay Tablon, Cagayan de Oro, Private First Class Manuel Cunada, 94, Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, Private Sulpicio Cabasan, 94, Barangay Bonbon, Opol, Misamis Oriental, and Private Aligondo Dagondon, 93, Barangay Malanang, Opol, Misamis Oriental.

Polonia, a native of Impasug-ong, joined the guerrilla movement upon enlisting in the 10th Military District.

According to PVAO, Polonia’s unit was assigned to defend the larger part of Mindanao against the strong Japanese forces.

“His (Polonia) contribution during the war had been made part of a glorious chapter in the history of the Philippines and will be etched forever in the rich history of the [country] and will serve as an inspiration to the youth of this generation, to love and serve the country and to fight for peace and freedom at all cost,” stated Polonia’s plaque of recognition.

Since Polonia can no longer hear clearly, his daughter Evita Polonia-Cabalida, 63, said her father did not want to join the resistance during the Japanese occupation as he had seven children at the time but was forced to enlist in the Philippine Army when the Imperial soldiers tried to kill him.

Cabalida said Polonia was a sharp shooter and claimed to have killed many Japanese soldiers.

After the war, Evita said Polonia went back to farming and managed to produce 13 kids, two of whom died during WWII due to starvation.

Cabalida is the one who’s taking care of Polonia, said her father does not smoke or drink and eats mostly vegetables.

“He is in good health. His monthly pension of P6,000 is used for his vitamins,” Cabalida said.

Although he is not suffering from any ailments brought by old age, Polonia has already shown signs of dementia as he tends to forget, among others, the names of his fellow soldiers.
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