MANILA, Philippines – Ten soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were given honors in “The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers” (TOPS) awards Monday for their “selfless acts of gallantry in preserving the nation’s sovereignty, and their outstanding career achievements.”
TOPS is an annual event headed by the Metrobank Foundation Inc., Rotary Club of Makati, and in cooperation with the AFP, is a “symbolical tribute of the civilian sector to the military for its selfless contributions and gallantry in protecting national security and sovereignty,” Metrobank Foundation President, Aniceto Sobrepena, said in a statement released at the awarding ceremony.
The ten soldiers, who each received a P300,000-cash prize and a trophy courtesy of the Metrobank Foundation, were composed of four commissioned officers and six enlisted personnel from all services of the AFP, Metrobank said.
“We are proud to present to the entire nation, ten of the most dedicated and accomplished members of the AFP,” Sobrepena said. “More than being the private sector’s expression of gratitude to the sacrifices of our soldiers, TOPS also highlights the contributions of the men and women of the military, as vanguards of peace and democracy, to nation building and development.”
Colonel Milfredo Melegrito from the Philippine Army (PA), Captain Erick Kagaoan from the Philippine Navy (PN), Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Francisco Jr. from the Philippine Air Force (PAF), and Colonel Raul Tangco from the Technical and Administrative Services, were the four commissioned officers awarded by TOPS.
Melegrito, who has been in service for 25 years, led successful operations against insurgents in Northern Luzon as well as against illegal drugs.
Kagaoan, also with 25 years of service, was the Commander of the Naval Task Force assigned in Tawi-Tawi where he managed to establish peace and order despite the presence of rebel groups and warring tribes.
Francisco has rescued countless individuals, even infants and children, during calamities such as lahar floods and typhoons throughout his 20 years of service. He was former President Joseph Estrada’s Aide-de-camp.
Tangco has been the Dean of Academics in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for 28 years and has been training cadets to become excellent soldiers as well as improving the teaching methods in the academy.
The enlisted personnel awardees were Technical Sargeant Rolando Diomangay and Master Sargeant Juana Hernal, from the PA, Engineman Second Class Arce Balasbas and Engineman Third Class Ricky Burgos, from the PN, Senior Master Sergeant Augusto Reyes and Master Sergeant Emerito Angcao, from the PAF.
General Jessie Dellosa, AFP Chief of Staff thanked the Metrobank Foundation and Rotary Club of Makati “for their continuous recognition and appreciation of the outstanding service rendered by our men and women and uniform.”
“I am sure that this gesture of acknowledgement will continue to inspire more soldiers to become a true model of excellence, professionalism, and integrity,” Dellosa said.