Thursday, April 15, 2010

Marines to Render Hero’s Welcome to Personnel Killed in Latest Basilan Encounter

By: Lieutenant Colonel Edgard A Arevalo PN(M)
Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

15 April 2010

One of the Marines killed in action during the encounter with the ASG in Basilan was set to become a priest before finding himself in the rugged terrains of Ternate as a trainee of the Philippine Marines. Corporal Jerome Verzola, a 30-year old Bicolano from Sorsogon dreamt of joining the Philippine Military Academy but was discouraged by his parents. Instead he entered a seminary in Baguio City before finally earning a bachelor’s degree in Criminology in 2000. In 2002, Cpl Verzola became a member of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7.

A champion racer during his civilian days and a computer buff, the late Cpl Verzola was known to his peers as a jolly person. According to 2Lt Beryl Charity Bacolcol, Acting Commanding Officer of the 73rd Armor Company based in Isabela City, Verzola was a very professional soldier who saw to the welfare of his juniors. “He was called ‘bunso’ by his peers in the Brigade because of his looks but when the second batch of female marines (9 in all) arrived in the Brigade this month, the ‘bunso’ suddenly became a ‘kuya’ to the new Marine recruits,” 2Lt Bacolcol recounts.

Cpl Verzola, together with Private First Class Francis Vibal and Private First Class Anastacio Giron were given a heroes welcome this afternoon, 15 April 2010 at the Marine Headquarters in Taguig City. Maj Gen Juancho a Sabban, Commandant, Philippine Marine Corps led officers and enlisted personnel in paying their last respects to their late comrades. The three were awarded the Posthumous Wounded Medal.

Pfc Giron, 27 from Antique and Pfc Vibal, 31 from Camarines Sur are both members of MBLT1. Giron who joined the Marines in 2006 is a champion marathoner. Pfc Vibal who has been with the Marines since 2005 is no stranger to the call of duty being married to a policewoman. Both men are described by their commander as loyal and have a high respect for authority.

The three were killed in action when they clashed with members of ASG in Isabela City last Tuesday. The three were part of the security forces dispatched after a bomb planted by the ASG exploded.

Security forces in Basilan have beefed up their operations to prevent a repeat of the incident. The Navy has also deployed its patrol gunboats to conduct maritime barrier patrol and interdiction operation to frustrate reinforcement or escape of the perpetrators.

“The death of these three gallant Marines may be costly a price to pay for the call of duty. But they know and willingly risked their lives but were killed in the process. In the end, they secured the Basilenos and thwart what could be the Abu Sayyaf Group’s grand plan to raid Isabela City and cause massive death and destruction.”