VIDEO: Soldier who died in Zambo gets medal for valor
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military honors the bravery of soldiers in combat. One of those awarded the medal of valor is 21 year old Private Ian Paquit.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
IRENE PAQUIT, SISTER: Sabi ko sa kaniya, “Utang na loob, huwag mo nang gawin yan. Ayokong ako ang maglibing sa 'yo. Sabi niya sa akin, "I love my job more than anything else." Kaya napakasakit sa amin yun na napakabata pa niya namatay na siya.
(I told him, “I beg you, please don’t do this. I don’t want to be the one to bury you.” He told me, “I love my job more than anything else.” It was very painful for us that he passed away at such a young age.)
Irene’s brother, Private First Class Ian Paquit, was 21.
He died fighting the MNLF in Zamboanga City in September.
He intentionally put himself in the line of fire to save his team.
President Aquino awards Ian the posthumous Medal of Valor, the highest military honor for bravery in combat.
His father Eduardo receives the honor.
IRENE PAQUIT: "Super proud kami sa kaniya, hindi lang ang pamilya namin."
(We are very proud of him. Not just our family.)
Ian had been pulled out earlier for a shrapnel wound.
IRENE PAQUIT: Sabi niya magaling na daw siya gusto niyang bumalik. Sabi ko bakit babalik ka pa? Nasaktan na nga siya. Hindi na siya tumawag sakin yun pala bumalik na siya. Tumawag na lang sila ulit sa akin noong nasa ICU na siya.
(He said he wanted to go back. I asked him why since he was already injured. He didn’t call after that, we didn’t know he already went back (to Zamboanga). The next call I got, he was already in the intensive care unit (ICU).
It was Week 3 of the standoff.
Ian's team was trapped by the MNLF’s massive firepower.
He decided to leave his position to get a better line of sight and provide fire cover for his team to reposition.
Ian's heroic move allowed the soldiers to turn the situation around.
They captured 41 MNLF fighters and killed another 15.
But it cost him his life.
Bullets came flying and one hit his neck.
He was brought to the hospital, where he died days later.
The father was so angry he ordered his children to join the military and avenge Ian’s death.
IRENE PAQUIT: Sa galit niya noong nandun pa kami sa Zambo kasi halos katabi lang naming yung MI na nandoon sugatan. Galit na galit ang tatay ko gusto niya ganon magsundalo nga kami.
(Our father was so angry because we were almost just next to the wounded when we were in Zamboanga. He was so angry he wanted as to join the army too.)
There are many stories of heroism during the Zamboanga City stand-off Paquit's story is just one of them.
2013 is a busy year for the military.
But Ian is a testament to the resolve of Filipino soldiers even when their leaders fall short.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Quezon City.