Brod of slain Army soldier had premonition on Basilan attack PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:47

A day before Army 1st Lt. Jose Delfin Khe and 18 of his comrades were killed during a 10-hour fierce gun battle with an overwhelming combined force of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and bandits in Basilan last Tuesday, his younger brother, 2nd Lt. Erren Khe had a premonition about the incident.

“I had a premonition on the tragic death of my brother,” Erren told reporters while waiting for the arrival of a C-130 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) carrying the remains of 15 of the slain 19 members of the elite Special Forces of the Philippine Army at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City Friday.

A few days before the firefight, Erren said he talked to his brother over a mobile phone. He said they talked about their “future plans” in the military and how they could contribute to improve the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“I had a premonition on the night before my brother was killed that something bad would happen to him,” Erren, who is presently assigned at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, said with sadness on his face.

He ignored the premonition but was shocked to learn the following day of the tragic news that his brother was one of the 19 soldiers killed in action in the Basilan clash. He admitted that the news on the death of his brother was a nightmare.

Nevertheless, Erren, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), like his brother, took all the pains and sadness related to the fate that had befallen on their family.

Erren also said that the clash in the town of Al-Barka, a stronghold of the MILF, was his brother’s second combat exploit. The first was last year also in Basilan.

The slain Khe was looking forward to get married to his long-time girlfriend, Jane Frances Madarang, this coming December.

His death was the second tragedy that happened to the Khe family this year, Erren said. Two months ago, their father died.

Despite the killing of his older brother in the hands of the enemies of the state, the good looking Lt. Erren Khe is undaunted of the risk in the profession of arms and declared that as a good soldier, he is ready to serve the country come what may to preserve the Republic.

Also at the sideline of the military ceremony Friday night was Mrs. Perla Divinagracia Torrato, 66, who went to Villamor Air Base to condole with the family of her nephew, Private First Class Roberto M. Ricafranca Jr., who was among the 19 Army Special Forces killed in action in the Basilan firefight.

Mrs. Torrato said she can feel the pains of losing a loved one because her husband, also a soldier, S/Sgt. Emmanuel Torrato of the Philippine Army, was killed during an attack by rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Cotabato City on March 2, 1973 at the outbreak of the secessionist movement hostilities in Mindanao.

She recalled that her husband was manning a checkpoint when he came under heavy gunfire by MNLF forces.

A gun battle ensued, but “unfortunately, my husband was killed. He was only 25,” Mrs. Torrato said with tears in her eyes even after 38 years had lapsed.

Mrs. Torrato was 24 when her husband was killed in action defending the Tabunon Patrol Base in Cotabato. She never remarried. They have three children, all boys.

She said one of her sons, Emmanuel Jr., tried to enlist in the military but “his uncle tore the enlistment paper.”

Now, she is again grieving “because my nephew was killed in Basilan in a firefight with rebels.”

“I know how it feels losing a loved one because I went through it,” Mrs. Torrato said. --Ben Cal