By Mortz C. Ortigoza
Former Army General Fortunato Abat, a warrior of the Mindanao Campaign versus the Moro, died at 7 p.m of March 7, 2018 at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC).
“The Day We Nearly Lost Mindanao” was a book authored by then Army Commanding General Abat.
My father was assigned in Cotabato City during this conflict in the middle of the 1970s and he narrated to me how they called the Northrop F-5 combat jets from Mactan Air Base to drop napalm bombs against the Libyan government backed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of Nur Misuari, a former University of the Philippines' professor, to deter them in conquering Cotabato City.
|WARRIORS - Army Commanding General Fortunato Abat accepts the surrender of a Muslim|
rebel's commander and his battle scarred warriors. Photo Credit: General Allan Luga
According to the March 1973 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review, the first shipment of firearms, courtesy of Libya’s Strongman Muammar Qaddafi and Sulu born Sabah State Minister Tun Datu Haji Mustapha, landed in December 1972 at the town of Lebak in Cotabato province. Boats, each powered with three Volvo-Penta 170 engines, brought in Belgian made Cal 7.62 rifles, anti-personnel mines, grenades of the cylindrical unserrated type, plastic explosives, Cal 30 LMG, Browning carbines, Cal 30 Mis and several thousand rounds of ammunition to Cotabato and other landing sites regularly for the next fourteen months.