Mom of Ilokano soldier killed by Maute snippers prays for Peace in Marawi

NAGBUKEL, Ilocos Sur – Still grieving for her son who died fighting against the Maute terror group, Censia Piscala, 62, prays and expressed her hopes for peace in war-torn Marawi City.

Censia, a native of Barangay Bandril, Nagbukel town, is the mother of Sgt. Benjie Piscala, 28, a scout ranger, who died recently in the conflict zone.

“I am appealing to the members of the Maute terrorist group to surrender to the authorities to end the Marawi siege,” Piscala, a widow, said. “Please think of the relatives who are left by the casualties of the war,” she added, referring to the Muslim terror group.

Sgt. Piscala, a member of the 13th Scout Ranger Company of the Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, was the second soldier from Ilocos Sur province who died in the continuing Marawi crisis.

He died on the spot when he was maneuvering to the third floor of the building he and his comrades had captured and in control of when he was caught by a bullet fired by a Maute sniper at about 3 p.m. on June 22, according to his cousin Private First Class John Garde.

Two days after the gallant Ilokano scout ranger died, his remains in a coffin, accompanied by soldiers, arrived at his mother’s house, here.

Censia described her son as a responsible and a devoted family man and disclosed that due to the hardship in life, Benjie had no choice but to enlist himself in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after graduation from high school in 2009.

“He wanted to serve the country while aiming to bring a decent life for us and his siblings,” Censia said.

It was learned that Benjie’s father died during his childhood days.

After his graduation as a candidate soldier in Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan, Piscala joined the elite Scout Ranger unit of the Philippine Army. He was deployed to Mindanao where he fought in several encounters with Muslim terrorists and earned several military medals and “Kagitingan badge” for his gallantry in action.

Piscala also dreamt of undergoing a sniper training course of the AFP after his deployment in Marawi.

Censia admitted that even from the very start, she did not want her son to join the military but his determination gained her support.

“I am very proud that my son died as a hero defending the country against the terrorists,” she said.

Censia thanked President for his deepest sympathy to the kin of the fallen soldiers and police of the Marawi siege.

Meanwhile, Virgilio Baguang, village chair of Barangay Bandril and the president of the Association of Barangay Chairman in Nagbukel town, said that the people in his village are saddened by Piscala’s untimely death.

“Nagbukel residents are very proud of the heroism of Sgt. Piscala and we will always render our snappy salute to our fallen hero,” Baguang said.

Piscala left his wife, Gelian and their two children, Liana Kate, 3 and Benz Carl, 2.

He was laid to rest in hometown’s public cemetery on July 10.  Freddie Lazaro/