By Bonita Ermac
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez on Saturday visited and conferred the Wounded Personnel Medal to the 24 wounded troops at the headquarters of Joint Task Force Sulu, Kuta Heneral Bautista, Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu and at Camp Navarro General Hospital, WestMinCom headquarters in this city.
“Our soldiers really fought and have sacrificed their own lives just to attain peace in Jolo,” Galvez said.
“Up close and intensive firefight within one and a half hour of serious encounter, we see a higher probability of having a bigger number of casualties,” he added.
On Friday afternoon, JTF Sulu troops encountered more than 50 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members at around 4:10 p.m. in Barangay Liang. On Saturday, at around 5:20 p.m., they also encountered more than 20 ASG members at KM5, Barangay Latih, all in Patikul, Sulu .
The ongoing military operation of JTF Sulu is being intensified and aims to rescue all the remaining kidnapped victims from the hands of notorious ASG bandits before the year ends.
The kidnapped victims include one Vietnamese, one Dutchman and four Filipinos.
Based on the latest information from the community, the latest encounters caused the death of almost 10 Abu Sayaff members.
On the government side, there were five fatalities and more than 24 wounded soldiers.
In pursuit of peace, Gen. Galvez said that “We are gaining headway, but Sulu, has been a bigger challenge for us that we have to solve,” he stated.
Along with the medals, “financial assistance was given to the wounded soldiers to boost their morale and of course to see to it that our soldiers are being taken cared of properly,” Gen. Galvez conveyed.
One soldier from the 21st Infantry Battalion and 23 soldiers from the 41st Infantry Battalion of Phil. Army were awarded with the wounded personnel medal They are:
1) 2LT MICHAEL VINCENT G BENITO
2) Pfc Harvie P Soriano (inf, PA
3) Pfc John Paul R Layugan (inf, PA
4) Cpl Eugene B Corpuz (inf, PA
5) Pfc Ruben P Bulayang (inf, PA
6) Cpl Felix Jay M Castillo (inf, PA
7) Pfc Kreal L Manaligod (inf, PA
8) Derver M Lambino (inf, PA
9) Sgt Reynante C Ruma (Sc) PA,
10) Pvt Jaime G Boco Jq (Inf) PA,
11) Pvt Rizalde R Tierro (Inf) PA,
12) Cpl Geneus P Calamcam (Inf) PA,
13) Pfc Marnel S Piduana (Inf) PA,
14) Sgt Jerson M Barasi (Inf) PA,
15) Cpl Bingbong V Salvador (Inf) PA
16) Ssg Rex M Cureg (Inf) PA
17) Pfc Sandoval L Ludivico (Inf) PA
18) Pfc London W Longawis (Inf) PA
19) Pvt Murphy F Cuntapay (Inf) PA
20) Pvt Jayperson G Balac (Inf) PA
21) Sgt Romeo M Barbon (Inf) PA
22) Pfc Jordan U Magundayao (Inf) PA
23) Pfc Gervil P Lorenzo (Inf) PA
24) Pfc Aldron B Paj-dio –(Inf),PA
Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega said that “WestMinCom recognizes the heroism of our troops and we empathize with their respective families for their loss. This is the ultimate sacrifice our soldiers pay just to ensure that peace can be won in this part of the country.“
“Despite the losses, we also have to recognize the efforts of the JTF Sulu and its troops that continuously pressures the bandits resulting in the successive and successful rescue of kidnap victims in Sulu,” Lt. Gen. Dela Vega added.