2013 a challenging year for the military—AFP chief
MANILA, Philippines—It was a tough year for soldiers and it is time of the year that they get recognized.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista described 2013 as a “challenging” year for the military.
The year 2013 saw many big challenges in the armed forces—from the Sabah crisis, kidnapping of Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights, disaster response during calamities and the Zamboanga crisis.
“We have gone through a lot,” Bautista told reporters on Thursday.
It was a year that the military battled for three weeks in an urban setting. It was also the year where the strongest storm to hit land, super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), battered the country.
A huge number of soldiers were recognized this year and awarding ceremonies were held in various military camps. About 2,000 soldiers were deployed to battle forces of the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City last September.
A bigger awarding ceremony was held on Thursday at the AFP Thanksgiving Day at Camp Aguinaldo where 140 military personnel were awarded—most were from the Zamboanga crisis.
A second batch of the awarding ceremony with President Benigno Aquino III expected to attend will be held on Friday at the AFP’s 78th anniversary. Talks at Camp Aguinaldo say that the prestigious Medal of Valor, the highest award for combat, will be awarded to one military personnel.
“Soldiery is one of the noblest and honorable professions. For, indeed, the test of nobility and honor can be best measured by one’s willingness to offer the supreme sacrifice of his life for his country and people,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on his speech at the AFP Thanksgiving Day.
Gazmin directed Bautista to revise the current policy-procedures in order to expedite the grant of awards to deserving military personnel.
“I would like to believe that the rendition of awards to our soldiers should have been expeditiously done earlier. It would have afforded added importance to the heroic deeds of our awardees, as there is no greater feat or achievement than offering ones lives for the sake of our beloved native land and people,” he said further in his speech.
The AFP decided to forego its festive activities on Friday and instead will hold “a toned-down” anniversary rites. Highlights of the usual AFP anniversary are a fly-by of air assets and a parade of troops and assets.
“It will be a simple celebration in solidarity with our people. Our supposed expenses for the AFP day will instead be used for relief operations,” Bautista said.
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