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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – (UPDATE - 2:58 p.m.) Almost a hundred Army Special Forces soldiers arrived Friday at the Edwin Andrews airbase in this city on an Air Force C-130 transport plane for deployment to Basilan province, where the fresh troops lost 19 comrades in Tuesday’s battle with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The same plane is taking most of the slain soldiers home.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command said only 15 of the 19 fatalities were loaded onto the C-130.
One of the remains, that of a native of General Santos City, will be offloaded at Davao City after which the rest of the bodies will be flown to Villamor Airbase in Manila, where the plane is expected to arrive Friday afternoon.
From there, the remains will be taken to Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.
The remains transported to Manila are those of 1st Lieutenants Colt G. Alsiyao and Vladimir A. Maninang, 2nd Lt. Jose Delgin E. Khe, Sergeant Ronald Sta. Rita, Corporal Roderick S. Cabanua, Privates First Class Mark Ted A. Quiban, Reny Arciaga, Romell Ondovilla, Roberto M. Recafranka, Jones S. Regor, Jobert D. Miguel, Jordan D. Olivar, Emerson C. Tugas, Jordan M. Magno and Dennis R. Bolan.
The Mindanao natives among the slain troops are 1st Lt. Frank Junder P. Caminos, Sgt. Andy Bonifacio R. Mabalot, PFC Ervin D. Dequito, and Private Garry Colonia.
While Cabangbang described the arrival of the new troops as a “regular deployment,” he said it was likely that they would be joining pursuit operations against MILF commander Dan Sanawi, who led the rebels in Tuesday’s clash in Al Barka town.
Fourteen other Special Forces troops were wounded in the engagement.
Asnawi was also tagged in the 2007 killings of 14 Marines, 10 of whom were beheaded, also in Al Barka.