Catapang trumpets gains in peace, security ops at AFP Day
MANILA, Philippines — Living heroes took the center stage of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 79th anniversary on Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo.
“There is no greater way to honor the bravery of each Filipino soldier than to perpetuate their devotion to duty and carry on the faithful services they rendered,” Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr said in his speech before troops, civilians, high level officials and the commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III.
“We held this true, in this particular year through the challenges that inspired the sense of heroism in us.”
He cited that soldiers faced numerous challenges in 2013.
“The challenges faced by the Filipino soldiers as UN peacekeepers in Golan Heights, Liberia, and Haiti; the numerous calamities like flooding, volcanic eruption and typhoons, where the AFP’s immediate response and proactive role during disasters were manifested,” Catapang said.
“Apart from these, we have also gained headway in internal peace and security operations in partnership with local government units and other stakeholders,” he added.
He said that “many provinces” are becoming almost insurgency-free or “peaceful and ready for development.”
28 personnel honored
Twenty-eight officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees and cadet reservists were awarded for their “invaluable accomplishments in the service of the people.”
First Lieutenant Dante Espiritu received the second highest award in the military, the Distinguished Conduct Star. He was the patrol leader of 1st Scout Ranger Company that encountered over 300 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu last November. Part of his citation read: he “inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy, thereby showcasing extreme stability under fire and keeping up with the finest traditions of Filipino soldiery.”
Two generals also received the Philippine Legion of Honor with Degree of Officer — Major General Oscar Lactao and Brigadier General Alexander Balutan “for their exceptionally meritorious and valuable service rendered in a position of major responsibility.”
Showcase of military assets
The pass-in-review after the ceremony had a parade troops and some of assets of the AFP, such as tanks, howitzers, amphibious assets, UN tanks, rescue assets, communication vans.
The audience were also treated to a skydiving exhibition led by Lieutenant Colonel Eliglen Villaflor of the Philippine Army Parachute Team, where about 20 skydivers jumped from the plane and landed one by one at the parade grounds.
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