CAMP EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City – General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., the Chief-of-Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines, awarded the Wounded Personnel Medal to four soldiers who figured bravely in various encounters with New People’s Army (NPA) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) this year.
General Catapang also assured Staff Sergeant Pio Himaldong and Private First Class Ramil Akiatan promotion to next higher ranks for surviving separate attacks from NPAs and Abu Sayaf Group (ASG).
They received their awards and recognition from the AFP morning of Tuesday (March 24) in AFP Medical Center in V. Luna Road, Quezon City while still in their hospital beds receiving medical care from military doctors and nurses.
The Wounded Personnel Medal is awarded to members of and civilians employed by the AFP who are injured or killed in combat with the enemy. Its equivalent is the Purple Heart Award of the US Armed Forces.
Among those who received the award was Second Lieutenant Eljuhn Aboc, 26, from Cagayan de Oro City. He just graduated from Philippine Military Academy last year.
He said he was wounded on his right arm during an encounter with more or less ten (10) NPA remnants in Barangay Limos, Pinukpuk, Kalinga while conducting blocking and patrol in February 28, 2015.
Aboc was leading his squad in response to an ambush conducted by the same group of NPAs against three (3) other soldiers earlier in an adjacent barangay.
He and his squad were tasked in Kalinga to conduct Bayanihan projects with the local government units.
“My only thought was to live through the experience,” he said. “I expect more of these to come in the future because that is how the life of a soldier is but I take it as a lesson in soldiery.”
Staff Sergeant Marlon Sanico, 48, Zamboanga del Sur, was wounded by shrapnel on his limbs and shoulder when under attack from more or less fifty (50) BIFFs in barangay Katibpuan, Talayan, Maguindanao in March 7, 2015.
He was one of the soldiers deployed for the law enforcement operations against the BIFF with the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“We were just one (1) kilometre away from the enemies in a ditch. They were hiding in trenches too,” he said.
He saw two of his comrades shot by enemy snipers on the head and the jaw while others fell wounded beside him.
Despite his wounds, he turned back to pick up a wounded comrade while bullets rained around him.
Private First Class Rogelio Labi, 26, from North Cotabato, was wounded on both legs by shrapnel and bullets while his platoon was reinforcing Sanico’s unit in the same encounter with BIFF.
“We were looking to save the wounded and ended up closer to the enemy,” he said.
They were blinded by the darkness and could not determine the location of the enemy. They were bombarded by a machine gun by the BIFF which killed one of his comrades.
“Nobody wins in wars, both sides lose,” he said.
Arturo Ancheta, brother of Private First Class Lester King Ancheta, beamed with pride but there were tears in his eyes for his younger brother.
Ancheta, 23, was among the five (5) wounded in an encounter with NPAs in Barangay Legleg, Quirino, Ilocos Sur last February 26, 2015. Four (4) from his unit were killed in battle. He sustained shots on various parts of the body including a shot from an AK 47 which entered his upper chest then existed through his lower back.
They were conducting clearing operations with PNP against NPA when they were ambushed by more or less ten (10) NPAs.
PFC Ramil Akiatan, 35, of 32nd IB, said he will be promoted to Corporal after he sustained injuries from an anti-vehicle landmine.
His head wound received twelve (12) stitches while his left shoulder was dislocated. A shrapnel is still in his arm to be removed by surgery soon.
He and his unit were returning to their camp from inventorying firearms from Alpha Company in Maguindanao when they were landmined while on a military truck by ASG.
They encountered thirty (30) ASGs who also fired at them even as they were thrown in different directions by the bomb.
The ASG were under the command of Commander Sahiron.
He said three (3) from his unit were killed while six (6) were wounded.
Despite their experiences, most of them said they would still go back to the field.
“Ganun talaga trabaho ng sundalo,” they said.
General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., the Chief-of-Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines, has directed the commander of the 6th Infantry Division, Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, to facilitate the safe graduation ceremonies in the affected areas in Maguindanao.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has proposed at least fifteen (15) areas where sixty-five (65) schools would be clustered for the joint graduation ceremonies.
Last Thursday (March 19), Governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu of Maguindanao convened the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting in Awang, Maguindanao to conduct initial coordination regarding the proposed graduation ceremonies in selected areas. The AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) will help in identifying safe areas where these graduation events would be held in close coordination with the local government unit.
Today (March 23), the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) of the different LGUs in the affected areas held consultation meetings in their own areas to discuss thoroughly different issues regarding the proposed graduation ceremony.
Tomorrow (March 24), the provincial government of Maguindanao is planning to convene the PPOC in Buluan town to receive feedbacks from the local chief executives of the affected municipalities.
Law enforcement operations would be continuously conducted in areas that are believed to be the new hideouts of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).These areas are in the marshlands and also in the mountainous area away from the proposed sites for the graduation ceremony.
The AFP and PNP will secure the sites where the graduation ceremonies will be held.
DepEd ARMM has proposed that the graduation ceremony will be held starting from 25 to 27 March 2015.
We will also work closely with the local government and the PNP in identifying areas where residents can safely return.
The AFP will continuously deploy forces in the former BIFF enclaves to deny the terrorists like Basit Usman and Amin Baco entry of their former safe havens.
The AFP will also facilitate the implementation of the P67 million worth of different projects which were approved by President Benigno S. Aquino III. The inauguration ceremony for the bridge project in Mamasapano town will be on March 25, 2015 (Wednesday).
General Catapang will deploy the Army engineers to help implement various infrastructure projects to support the rehabilitation and recovery of the conflict-affected areas.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 103rd Base Command in Iligan City was recommended dismantled due to a complaint lodged before the Iligan City council by Datu Lantung Ko Limunsudan, or Higaonon chieftain, Deodato S. Abugan Sr.
They alleged that MILF fighters under Abdul Sango Amoran of the 305th Guerilla Unit recruited 85 Higaonon tribesmen and Maranaws from Bukidnon and brought to the camp from May 16 to 31 last year.
Colonel Gilbert Gapay, commanding officer of Army's 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, facilitated the recommendation of the complaint to Government of the Philippines Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH CCCH).
The protest submitted by Colonel Gapay to GPH CCCH will be acted upon through the conduct of Joint Site Verification Mission which will be composed by the Joint GPH-MILF CCCH and Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), IMT, and The Provincial Local Monitoring Team, Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Post and representatives from local government units, Elders and non-government organization Non-violent Peace Force.
Inter-agency meditation and protocols will be sought to resolve issues peacefully.
CAMP EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City – In honor of our Filipino veterans who fought valiantly for the country, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) will be staging “Musikagitingan 2015: Alay sa Bayaning Beterano” this afternoon at the AFP Theater for free.
The cultural variety show will be held at the AFP Theater inside Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature Philippines' premier ventriloquist Ony Carcamo, 2013 Talentadong Pinoy Grand Winner Spyro Marco, St. Dominic Savio College Cultural Dance Troupe, 2010 Grand Champion Performer and Vocalist of the World Marielle Corpuz and Next 2 Innocence, 2010 Philippine Representative of World Supremacy Battlegrounds International Competition in Australia and 2010 Champion Groove Philippines National Competition.
The event is a prelude to this year’s celebrations of Araw ng Kagitingan 2015 and Philippine Veterans Week on April 5 to 11. The celebrations aim to present our veterans as among the country’s national treasures, revive Kagitingan or the culture of heroism and strengthen our collective sense of national pride.
Admission to the Musikagitingan is free and open to the public.
The 601st Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, has collected some of the mission essential equipment owned by the Special Action Force-Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) which were lost during the encounter with the MILF/BIFF in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Through the efforts of said unit and its commander, Colonel Melquiades Feliciano, the equipment were collected one-by-one from the people who got these from the SAF 44 who paid the ultimate sacrifice during that fateful day.
We recognize the valuable help of civilian non-government organizations, civilian residents, religious leaders who worked together in returning these lost equipment.
The recovered equipment were turned over by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to PNP late afternoon yesterday (March 17).
The list of equipment include five (5) units of night vision goggles, three (3) laser target pointers, two (2) night fighting devices, two units night vision monocular, three (3) units hand-held Harris radios, one (1) NEBO PROTEC laser designator, two (2) gas masks, one (1) kevlar helmet, one (1) set vest, one (1) pair combat boots, one (1) lower uniform pants and two (2) gun protective cases.
We acknowledge the contributions of all stakeholders and peace partners who are supporting the on-going peace process in Mindanao.