EDITORIAL

We choose the way we are remembered in life and death

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Gerardo Maquidato Jr. will always be remembered as the “Good Samaritan” driver of Grab Philippines who was shot dead by car thieves posing as passengers last week. A year before his death, the father of four small kids was cheered on social media for giving a diabetic patient a free ride to where she was to pick up bags of blood for her dialysis. Maquidato had also received recognition from Grab as one of its best driver–partners.

“We mourn the needless and untimely death of one of our best driver-partners, Mr. Gerardo Amolato Maquidato Jr.,” Grab said in a statement on Saturday. “Grab is one with the authorities in making sure that justice will be served and perpetrators will be put behind bars.”

By a single, simple act of kindness, Maquidato built a name that will make his children proud for the rest of their lives.

Today we also remember the gallant soldiers of our Philippine troops who have made their lives count by choosing to serve their country and fellowmen.

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Army Scout Ranger “Daredevil” Capt. Rommel Sandoval and Pfc. Sherwin Canapi died fighting for government control of Marawi City against the Maute-led terrorist groups in September. They died trying to save a wounded company team leader who was trapped in a building at the height of the fighting. Sandoval was hit with enemy bullet in the face while trying to reach for the wounded soldier he did not wish to leave behind.

Then there is the story of a brave, young soldier who chose to heed the call of duty and join the fight on the frontline of the Marawi war, setting aside his personal plans temporarily. The junior officer of the Army’s Special Forces, 1st Lt. Howard Juan, was leading a team to attack the Maute and Abu Sayyaf camp when he was fatally shot by a pro-IS sniper on October 9. He had planned to marry his fiancée when the war was over.

Sandoval, Canapi and Juan are only three of the 165 government soldiers who died as heroes fighting for the Liberation of Marawi from the clutches of the IS-led terrorism in Mindanao.

Unfortunately, they could not hear the cheers and words of gratitude from the government and the nation as their fellow soldiers reported back to the capital.

On Monday, Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado welcomed back to Manila a Marine contingent of more than 500 personnel after their five-month deployment to Marawi. Mercado paid tribute to them, along with 36 of their men who were killed in action, for being “instrumental” in the liberation of Marawi. He cited the Naval Intelligence Operatives for providing critical information on the whereabouts of the leaders of the terrorist group from the very start up to the end of the Marawi siege.

Among them, a government sniper codenamed “Sierra 1-6” told reporters of how he tackled not only the enemy firepower but also his own mortal fear as they all faced death. He saw how his fellow Marine troopers were killed in a predawn operation. He said even if he was trained to kill, he always muttered a prayer and asked for God’s forgiveness every time his rifle snuffed out a life in the battlefield.

Sierra 1-6 chose to live his life in the Marine service to defend the country and its territories against such invaders as the international IS extremists and their Filipino supporters.

In life and in death, these present day heroes have made their choice of what to fight for. As the Philippines tries to establish a strong identity and claim its rightful place in the global arena, it is incumbent upon our leaders and their political opponents, as well as us, ordinary people, who have so much power at the tip of our fingers through the social media, to live upright lives that would make our country proud, instead of denigrate the name of the Republic by doing acts that embarrass our fellow citizens to be called Filipinos.

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