SENATOR Robinhood Padilla has earned the distinction of becoming a lifetime member of the elite First Scout Ranger Regiment. He was granted the honorary Scout Ranger Badge during the graduation ceremony of Scout Ranger Class 220-2023, held at the First Scout Ranger Regiment of the Philippine Army in Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan on September 1, 2023.
On Monday, September 4, Padilla donned his Ranger Badge with great pride and explained to his colleagues the reason why he was wearing it.
The privilege of being an honorary lifetime member is reserved for only a select few Filipinos. Some of the “pinagpala” in recent years include President Rodrigo Duterte, Senators Mark Villar, Bong Go, and Manny Pacquiao. An honorary Scout Ranger is entitled to all the privileges accorded to regular members of the Scout Ranger family.
Padilla thanked his fellow Scout Rangers for their vital role during the Marawi Siege, emphasizing that the events in Marawi did not represent the true teachings of Islam.
“Yung nangyari sa Marawi, hindi iyon kailanman ang katuruan ng Islam. Napakahalaga sa akin ng Marawi kasi sinagip ninyo ang pananampalataya naming mga Muslim dito. Kayong mga sundalo, ang mga Scout Ranger, ang nagbigay ng buhay doon.
Isang pagpapakita iyon sa amin na handing ibigay ng isang sundalo ang kanyang buhay para sa isang Muslim.”
For his part, FSRR Commander Brigadier General Isagani Criste reminded the graduates, their families, and guests about a defining moment in Padilla’s life as a peacemaker.
He recounted the hostage crisis in Basilan on March 20, 2000, during President Joseph Estrada’s administration. The kidnapers, who held about nine men and 50 civilians as hostages, threatened, “Give us Robin, or we’ll give you death.” They wanted Padilla, who had converted to Muslim during his three-year incarceration at the National Bilibid Prison, to serve as one of the negotiators.
As a consequence of his and other negotiators’ efforts, two hostages were released that day. Subsequently, in May 2000, 18 hostages were freed, although four Filipino captives, including Fr. Roel Gallardo, were executed. The release of the hostages, though, was largely attributed to the counter-kidnaping of ASG leader Khaddaf Janjalani’s more than a dozen family members, including his mother, expectant wife, and one-year old daughter.
“During those crises, a brave and patriotic Filipino citizen took tremendous risks and sacrificed his life for peace. He voluntarily ventured into the mountains of Punoh Mahaji to reduce the likelihood of bloodshed and loss of life. Sir Robin was able to persuade the terrorist group to release almost half of the hostages,” Criste recounted in Filipino.
Padilla also seized the opportunity to ask the soldiers’ support for the enactment of the mandatory military service for the youth.