CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – A total of 18 living heroes that helped in the liberation of Marawi City from the Daesh-inspired Maute Terrorist Group were recognized with medals from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in a ceremony held Monday evening at the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand.

The AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay duly represented the President and donned the medals to the awardees. Also present in the activity were Lieutenant General Allen T. Paredes, CGPAF, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo, FOIC-PN, and Lieutenant General Cirilito E. Sobejana, CGPA. They were joined by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kamagi was awarded to Brigadier General Fabian M. Pedregosa and Colonel Randy M. Pascua. The Kamagi Medal was conferred to the awardees for their exemplary service rendered in significantly advancing the advocacy of the President.

Moreover, bestowed with the Distinguished Conduct Star for their acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry in action were Colonel Jose Jesus C. Luntok, Captain Arnel P. Lozada, 2nd Lieutenant George O. Francisco, and Staff Sergeant Roland C. Saludes.

Meanwhile, Major General Generoso M. Ponio, Brigadier General Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Colonel Pompeyo Jason M. Almagro, Colonel Antonio C. Rota Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Jason V. Jumawan, Major Christopher C. Manimtim, Lieutenant Commander Noah C. Torres, Captain Jennylyn S. Tamacay, and Corporal Eric T. Collado were awarded the Chief of Staff AFP Commendation Medal and Ribbon (Interim).

The said award was given in due recognition of the awardees’ extraordinary acts of service and exceptional contributions to the country through various military operations for almost five (5) months against Maute-ISIS terrorists that resulted in the liberation of Marawi City.

The Chief of Staff AFP Commendation Medal and Ribbon (Interim) was also granted to the 55th Engineer “Mangumpiya” Brigade for their meritorious and valuable achievements in the pursuit of providing Engineer Support Operation in Marawi City that led to various socio-economic achievements.

For having been wounded in action as members of the Special Forces Operations Course Class 135-16 against an undetermined number of ISIS-inspired Maute Terrorists, Army Corporals Edison V. Caturan and Johnson P. Federizon were also recognized with the Wounded Personnel Medal.

Dr. Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay was the lone civilian and awardee of the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Magalong. She selflessly initiated, contributed, and defended the interests of the state against ISIS-Maute terrorist group during the Marawi Crisis.

 “It is truly an honor to stand here and be in the presence of these heroes; the very men and women who, without any reservation, have put the welfare of the people of Marawi before their own; who endured days and nights of fighting on the ground while carrying the heavy weight of the future of a city on their shoulders,” General Gapay said.

Also invited to virtually speak was Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra who conveyed his gratitude to the soldiers for not only helping in the liberation of the battle-scarred city but also in its ongoing rehabilitation.

Colonel Luntok who was also the former Commander of 4th Scout Ranger Battalion, delivered a testimonial to honor the late Army Captain Rommel Sandoval who sacrificed his life during the five-month battle.

Captain Sandoval was posthumously awarded with the Philippines' highest military award for courage, the Medal of Valor on December 20, 2017. He was among the heroes who were given tribute during an earlier ceremony in front of the Heroes Memorial in Camp Aguinaldo. 

General Gapay along with Major Service Commanders laid wreaths at the monument as soldiers performed a 21 Gun Salute in honor of their comrades who died for the liberation of Marawi.

“Your sacrifices and those of our fallen comrades have not been in vain as you have carved your marks deep in our history. And these shall continue to serve as a testament to our unrelenting and shall also serve as inspiration in our continued fight against threats to our country’s peace and security,” General Gapay stated./// (Photo: SN1 Viluan PN/PAOAFP)