Officer killed in Basilan quit teaching to join army

AFTERMATH. Army soldiers arrive in Basilan to reinforce military troops after the April 9 clash. File photo by Richard Falcatan/Rappler

AFTERMATH. Army soldiers arrive in Basilan to reinforce military troops after the April 9 clash.

File photo by Richard Falcatan/Rappler

ISABELA, Philippines – “Bright and kind.”

This was how his family described slain Army Lieutenant Remigio Licena, who was among the 19 soldiers killed in the 10-hour clash between government troops and terrorists in Basilan last April 9.

Licena was the highest ranking soldier among the casualties and the only one from Luzon, according to his brother Javier Licena. He was 28.

The lieutenant’s remains arrived via a military plane at the Cauayan City airport on Monday afternoon, April 11. He was brought to his home in the village of Rang-Ayan in Ilagan City also in Isabela province.

The family is pleading for justice, adding the government should immediately punish the gunmen behind the attack.

Licena graduated cum laude in Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from the International School of Asia and the Pacific in Tuguegarao City.

Before entering the military, he taught for two years in Rang-Ayan National High School, Ilagan police chief Superintendent Manuel Bringas told Rappler in phone interview.

According to Basilan clash survivor Sergeant Erico Paglinawan, Licena was killed after the Abu Sayyaf stormed the military routes with gunfire and M203 grenades.

The military said the attack in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan also wounded at least 52 soldiers and 20 terrorists, including Abu Sayyaf leader Radzmil Janatul, aka Kubayb, and notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnapper Furuji Indama.

Of the 19 soldiers killed, 18 of them died during the clash while one died hours after being brought to the hospital. Four of the soldiers were beheaded in the fighting.

The military said 13 of the terrorists were also killed in the clash.

A terror expert earlier told Rappler that the clash was the first major attack of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, IS, ISIL, or Da’esch, in the Philippines. (READ: ISIS behind Basilan killings, says terror expert) – Rappler.com