CULTURAL prayer and a Cordilleran ritual were offered for the Cordilleran soldiers who have fallen in action during the Marawi crisis.
Indigenous peoples from the different parts of the region mourned the eight brave Cordillerans - three members of the Special Action Force and five members of Armed Forces of the Philippines - who fought in the battle between the government and terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
In line with the celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Day, IPs held a "Hunga ti Matago" a Cordilleran ritual with native pig butchered and a prayer to "Kabunyan" led by a Mumbaki (priest) from Ifugao.
The National Commission on Indigenous People commended the fallen highland soldiers through a plaque of commendation for their invaluable sacrifices during the height of the Marawi siege.
The plaques were received by Police Senior Inspector Jonalyn Butic Malnat, spokesperson of the Special Action Forces of the PNP.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa lahat ng tulong, na hino-honor ninyo iyong gallantry ng SAF at lahat ng men and women in the service,” Malnat said, a native of Lagawe, Ifugao.
Malat said an estimated 400 to 500 were deployed in Marawi with 60 percent coming from the Cordillera region.
At least 25 Cordillerans among the 60 wounded SAF troopers have recovered, added Malat.
“Sa ngayon, iyong iba naka-recover na, iyong iba nagpapagaling pa lang, iyong medjo minor iyong injury okay na sila nakabalik na,” added Malnat.
Cordillerans who were killed during the almost five month siege include Police Senior Inspector Freddie Manuel Solar of Baguio City, Army Corporal Benito Serrano of Conner, Apayao; Private First Class Gener Tinangag of Barlig Mt. Province, Scout Ranger Corporal Nelson Lasang Wailan of Tabuk City, Kalinga; Special Action Forces members PO3 Alexis Mangaldan of Bangued, Abra; PO1 Moises Kimayong Jr. of Lagawe, Ifugao;PO2 Daniel Tegwa of Bauko, Mountain Province; and Scout Ranger Jethro Estacio from Ifugao.
Recently, lawyer Alexander Bangsoy has led a donation drive for the Cordilleran troops killed in action in the five-month battle.
“If we could raise a substantial amount, we will have a fund drive on Christmas and another one in January,” said Bangsoy.
Aside from the fund drive to raise donations, there will be also be golf and football tournament this December to raise more funds for the families of the fallen soldiers and SAF troopers.