Recovered Marine soldier in Marawi battle gets military honors

MANILA -- The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) on Wednesday accorded military honors to a fallen comrade who earlier went missing-in-action last June 9 during initial government efforts to retake Marawi City from the Maute Group terrorists.

Capt. Maria Rowena Dalmacio, PMC spokesperson, identified the fallen Marine as Pvt. Alejandro A. Balean who was reported missing after an encounter with undetermined number of Maute Group terrorists commanded by Abdulla Maute at the vicinity of Mapandi Bridge, Barangay Daguduban of the above-mentioned city.

She added Balean's remains arrived at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City from Iligan City Tuesday night.

Dalmacio said Balean was a member of 7th MC, Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 and was among the Marines who fought together with the late 1st Lt. John Frederick Savellano and 1st Lt. Raymund Abad.

The five-month battle for Marawi resulted in the deaths of 920 terrorists and 165 troopers and 47 civilians.

Accounts from the survivors said that Balean fell into the Agus River while their platoon was maneuvering against the enemy. Attempts by his fellow Marines to rescue him proved futile against the strong current and strong enemy gun fire.

Balean's fate was eventually determined after a senior police officer in Marawi City on Aug. 3 informed his unit that an unidentified and badly decomposed cadaver wearing a "PBDU" lower pants, olive drab shirt, tactical belt, black pouch, and wooden beads bracelets with "Kamay ni Jesus" markings was recovered at Barangay Rurog Agus, Marawi City.

Dalmacio said that Balean's unit immediately coordinated with the PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives and resulted in the cadaver being brought to Capin Funeral Homes, Iligan City for forensic examination and DNA identification.

Subsequent DNA testing, with results released on Dec. 4, indicated that the body was the missing Balean.

Source: Philippine News Agency