AFP HONORS FILIPINO PEACEKEEPERS TO HAITI

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TOP officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) honored on Friday the 19th Philippine Contingent to Haiti (PCH) after a year of deployment as peacekeepers in the Caribbean country.

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The 135-strong contingent led by Col. Vincent Incognito was conferred the United Nations Service Medals during a ceremony at the GHQ Canopy Area at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Gen. Ricardo Visaya, AFP chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina, Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations and Col. Eugenio Hernandez, AFP peacekeeping operations center commander led top military officials in welcoming the peacekeepers.

“As peacekeepers deployed to one of the most politically unstable environments in the world, critical responsibilities were bestowed upon you. And alongside those duties are the challenges of working in a foreign land, thousand miles away from home and your loved ones,” Visaya told them during the welcome and medal parade ceremony.

The 19th PCH was organized and selected based on the manning requirements specified in the agreement between the Philippine government and the United Nations.

Composed of 135 personnel (11 officers and 124 enlisted personnel), the contingent provided administrative and security operations through clerical services, transport services, VIP security and perimeter defense.

The all-Air Force contingent arrived in the country last July 11 and immediately underwent a medical check-up at the AFP Medical Center.

It was replaced by the all-Army 20th PCH, which left the country on July 8.

“As your eyes have been opened with the problems occurring outside the territory we are primarily tasked to protect, I am certain that you have gained the motivation to serve more because you now have more to offer to our country and to the Filipino people,” Visaya said.

The AFP deployed its first contingents to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) in 2004 after its establishment through the Security Council Resolution 1542.

Minustah was established to maintain a secure and stable environment, assist in strengthening Haiti’s government institutions and promote and protect human rights after the series of armed conflicts that shook the country under the Aristide administration.

FERNAN MARASIGAN

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