The Cost of Peace: Remembering Patikul Massacre

On this day 43 years ago, the late Brig. Gen. Teodulfo Bautista and 34 of his men expected a favorable result to their peace talks with the rebels. Instead, they received gunshots and hack wounds leading to their untimely demise.
Brig. Gen. Bautista, then the Commanding General of the 1st Infantry "Tabak" Division (1ID), was set to meet with rebel leader Usman Sali and his men to discuss the peaceful coexistence of the opposing parties in the region. He even invited the then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, and the then AFP Adjutant General Col. Gabriel Pangilinan to participate in the meeting but they refused due to their prior appointments.
At the last minute, Sali proposed to the general that they meet at a public market in Patikul instead of the 18th Infantry Battalion’s Headquarters. The general accepted and set off without any doubt to Sali’s intentions.
Brig. Gen. Bautista and his men aboard two military trucks went to the meeting place unarmed as a sign of goodwill but found no one in sight. They decided to sit in the nearby table and wait for Sali, only to be attacked the moment their guard was down. The troops were mercilessly shot and hacked. Only Sgt. Oliver Calzada survived the attack by playing dead while his comrades were being killed right before his eyes. After the treacherous attack, Sali fled to Sabah but some reports indicate that Usman Sali died during subsequent government operations.
The military was devastated upon hearing the outcome of what was supposed to be a peaceful meeting between the opposing sides. Brig. Gen. Bautista’s son, Emmanuel T. Bautista, was then a young plebe at the Philippine Military Academy when the news reached him.
Despite grieving the loss of his father, the young Bautista pushed himself to excel in his training. He placed seventh among the 161 graduates of Class 1981 and went on to hold various leadership positions in the Philippine Army.
In November 2011, he was appointed as the 54th Commanding General of the Philippine Army and became the 44th Chief of Staff of the AFP in January 2013. General Bautista did what his father could have done and more, only a shame he was not around to see his influence to his son.
Brig. Gen. Bautista and his men paid the price for peace, and those they left behind hoped it was not in vain. The violence in Patikul will always remind us of the great lengths our soldiers can go to achieve peace for the next generation to enjoy. #