By Martin Sadongdong
A known gun enthusiast, President Duterte has recognized a team of Philippine Army (PA) shooters which bagged 22 medals in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Armies Rifles Meet (AARM) 2019 in Indonesia last month.
The 34-member team of Army “Manunudla” was accompanied by Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, newly appointed Army Chief, and Major General Cornelio Valencia Jr., commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, when they paid a courtesy call on the President at the Malacañang Palace on Monday.
In a statement on Tuesday, Gapay said he introduced the shooting team to the President while they presented their medals and trophies from the AARM 2019.
The team brought home six gold, seven silver, and seven bronze medals from the team events; and a gold and silver medal from the individual events.
The shooting competitions included the pistol (men and women), rifle/carbine and machine gun matches.
“I give my full support to the training of the Philippine Army soldiers so they can perform their duties at the best of their abilities. For the shooters, aim to be on the top of AARM next year,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
Gapay said that the President’s support raised their morale in performing to their best of abilities.
“With the support of the President, our soldiers will train hard to excel not only in the field of competition but in everything they do as we transform into a world-class Army,” Gapay said.
Manunudla is a Filipino word that means shooter, and was chosen by the shooting team to symbolize the team as a way of embracing its Filipino identity while representing the country in various international events, Gapay said.
Started in 1991, the AARM is an annual shooting competition among the armies of the member-states of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations. It aims to bring the armies together to foster friendship and camaraderie.
This year’s competition, held from November 20 to 24, was participated in by 10 different member-countries namely the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Brunei Darrusalam and Malaysia. It was hosted by the Indonesian Armed Forces.
The Royal Brunei Land Forces will host the AARM 2020.
Last year, the Philippine team finished with a 2-2-11 (gold, silver, bronze) medal haul.