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First, last soldiers in Zamboanga siege not among Aquino ‘awardees’

/ 09:10 PM November 04, 2013

President Benigno S. Aquino III, assisted by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, confers the Distinguished Conduct Star, Distinguished Service Star and Gold Cross Medal to the awardees during the Flag Raising and Awarding Ceremony at the GHQ Canopy, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday (November 04, 2013). The Commander-in-Chief honors the men in uniform who gallantly fought to rescue civilian hostages from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – Misuari faction during the three-week Zambonga City siege last September. Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — President Aquino may have awarded 18 out of the 2,000 troops who successfully accomplished their mission in Zamboanga City, but none of the awardees came from Zamboanga City or Basilan.

The first responders in the Zamboanga Siege were soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion who were on a “retraining program” in this city, and the 7th Scout Ranger Company from Basilan.

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The 32nd Infantry Battalion left the village of Santa Barabara last week, while the Rangers returned to Basilan two weeks ago.

General Rey Ardo, chief of Western Mindanao Command, said he learned about the awarding ceremony only last Sunday.

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Colonel Johnson Jemar Aseron of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and Captain Arvin Llenaresas of the 7th Scout Ranger Company admitted they were not informed about the recognition.

“It’s OK if we were not recognized. If we were recognized, we want it on December 21, during the AFP Day,” Aseron said.

“We respect the judgment of our superiors. In the Army, whoever is recognized, it’s considered an honor to all of us,” he added.

Llenaresas said he received no prior advise, “not even a radio message.”

But Llenaresas said they did not mind if they were not accorded with such recognition. “What’s important is we did our best to secure Zamboanga and gave back to its people the place,” he said.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar said she would look into the reason why troops who responded first and the last to leave Zamboanga City were not recognized during the awards ceremony.

“I will raise this matter to General (Emmanuel) Bautista (the AFP Chief of Staff),” the mayor said.

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President to honor heroes of Zamboanga siege

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TAGS: 32nd Infantry Battalion, AFP, Armed conflict, Benigno Aquino III, Insurgency, Johnson Jemar Aseron, Military, Moro National Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, Philippine Army, Rey Ardo, Scout Rangers, Western Mindanao Command
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