MANILA, Philippines – It was his dream to find success so he could lead his family out of a life of hardship too familiar to many Filipinos.
Fredie Solar found a way to achieve that dream when he got into the Philippine National Police Academy, where he graduated as part of the Sansinirangan Class of 2007.
He eventually joined the police force and was assigned to Mindanao.
Senior Inspector Solar’s dream came to an abrupt halt on May 23, 2017, after he was killed during an operation against suspected members of the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
“Numerous times, we pleaded for him to come back to Baguio. We asked him to apply for reassignment at any other place in the Philippines except Mindanao,” shared Solar’s sister, Susan, in a lengthy Facebook post accompanied by her late brother’s graduation picture.
Solar was among the first government casualties in an ongoing operation against alleged members of the terror group in Marawi City. He left behind a wife and two young children.
At least 5 soldiers were also killed as a result of sporadic gunfights against the terror group who, unbeknownst to government troops, had numerous members and supporters embedded in the city. Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said there were between 100 to 200 Maute members all over the city.
“At first, it was just patriotism that drove him to be in there. And as days and years passed, he still ignored our request to work for his reassignment but he always assured us that it is safe there. He said, the people there respect him and this was enough for him to stay. He has come to love the people of Marawi,” Susan said in her FB post.
Susan also shared their family’s situation in Baguio which was far from comfortable – the kind of life that her brother wanted to change.
“Our father can hardly make ends meet. Oftentimes, we go to our neighbors and ask for sayote tops or camote tops just to have something to eat. We begged at the store to lend us rice just so we can cook something. Life was really hard but this did not stop my brother to pursue his calling and achieve his dreams. He experienced hardship and this became his bread and butter to achieve his goals in life,” Susan said.
Solar was the head of the region’s drug enforcement group, the unit tasked to handle illegal drug cases. He was once police chief of Malabang, a town roughly two hours away from Marawi City.
The police official was apparently in Marawi to accompany his wife to a hospital, where he encountered the armed men.
His sister’s tribute has gone viral on social media as the public waits for more news about the clashes in Marawi.
“We have a lot of questions but we cannot find the answer. We can only lift everything to God. My brother may not have attained his goal to be a guest speaker at his alma mater but one thing is for sure, we know that his alma mater is proud of him, and we will always be proud of him,” Susan said.
Government forces are still conducting clearing operations in the city, amid a massive exodus of residents.
Citing the Maute Group’s attempt to take over or destroy buildings in the city, clashes in Marawi and the hoisting of ISIS flags in the city, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao island group under martial law on the evening of May 23. He made the decision while on an official trip Russia that was eventually cut short.
Duterte also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
The declaration is in place for 60 days and can be revoked by Congress, which is populated by Duterte allies. The Supreme Court may review the basis of the declaration if a case is brought before it. – Rappler.com