By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Four Army soldiers have been awarded citation medals for their exemplary role in the March 14 military surgical operation in Lanao del Sur that reportedly led to the killing of Dawla Islamiya leader Owayda Marohombsar alias Abu Dar.
Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief, pinned a gold cross medal on 2nd Lt. Jophet Orbeta and military merit medals on Sergeants Jayar Penetrante and Arcee Formanes as well as Private Romy Villamor, all of the 49th Infantry Battalion, on Wednesday, April 24.
The awarding rite was held at the headquarters of the military’s Joint Task Force ZamPeLan in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, WestMinCom public information office (WMC-PIO) said in a statement.
The WMC-PIO said the four medal recipients were also cited for recovering several high-powered firearms and grenades in the operations Tubaran, Lanao del Sur where Dar was reportedly killed.
Gen. Dela Vega commended the four awardees’ higher officers in the Team Tabak and Joint Task Force ZamPeLan for their “continuing dedication and professionalism in the conduct of our focused military operations” against terror threats.
“Let this (recognition) be an added motivation in our efforts to quell terrorism in the (WestMinCom) areas of operations. We should remain focused on the task at hand and, for sure, we will never go wrong…,” he told the awardees and their officials.
The awarding rite came a week after the national military hierarchy announced having received a DNA-test report confirming that the person slain in the March 14 operations was Dar himself.
Dar was reportedly involved in the planning and implementation of the May 23, 2017 siege in Marawi City by combined militants of the Dawayla Islamiya led by now slain brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute and a number of Abu Sayyaf guerillas led by Isnilon Hapilon.
After the deaths of the Maute brothers and Hapilon in a five-month fighting ensuing from the siege, Dar was reportedly designated by Daesh hierarchies as the leader of Dawla Islamiya in Mindanao.