Red Cross volunteer slain in jail attack laid to rest

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/29 February) – Exactly 10 days following his death, family and friends of Red Cross volunteer Benny Borello Balmediano bid him farewell at his final resting place at the Cotabato Memorial Park here around 1 p.m. today.

Balmediano was among the three killed during the attack at the Kidapawan City jail on February 19 reportedly in an attempt to rescue high profile inmate Datukan Samad alias Lastikman. An improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from an 81mm mortar exploded in front of him as he helped rescued victims of the attack.

Thousands gathered at the Seventh Day Central Adventist Church to pay their last respects to the 49-year-old volunteer.

The necrological services were attended by Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chair Richard Gordon, PRC secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang and delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

During the funeral rites, Gordon and Pang handed the check worth P200,000 as assistance to the two children of the late Balmediano: Bryan, staff of the PRC Cotabato; and April, a college student.

Part of the check, according to Gordon, would be used to finance April’s college education.

Also, a check worth P87,000 was given to Bryan as payment for the hospital bills and the funeral services of his father.

During the burial, family members, friends, and Red Cross volunteers wore T-shirts bearing the picture of Balmediano calling him a “hero”.

The funeral service began at 10 a.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, with a tribute to Balmediano.

In a heart-rending message, Bryan described his father as a man of diplomacy, a man of principle, a man of courage, a man of spirit and most of all, a man of love.

A friend also used a quote from the famous writer, William Shakespeare, to describe Balmediano, which stated, “Cowards die many times before their deaths… the valiant never taste of death but once.”

“Sir Benny (Balmediano) showed courage, valiant, and heroism while he was doing a humanitarian response… a simple man whose goal was to help others,” said a friend.

Balmediano, a tricycle driver, joined the PRC some eight years ago.

He was also among those Red Cross volunteers who were sent in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan to help typhoon Sendong survivors.

During the funeral, hundreds shed tears as sirens were played and personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) gave Balmediano snappy salutes as he was laid to his final resting place.

Balmediano is considered hero in terms of emergency humanitarian response by the PRC whose name, according to PRC chair Gordon, would be included in the list of their brave and courageous volunteers and workers.

He was also given posthumous award by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Kidapawan.

Also, in a resolution passed last week at the House of Representatives, Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones cited the heroism of Balmediano and the gallantry and chivalry of firefighters, police personnel and other law enforcers in quelling the attempt to rescue from the city jail a notorious criminal. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)