President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday led a ceremony honoring soldiers who bravely fought during the three-week siege in Zamboanga City.
Out of more than 2,000 soldiers, 12 officers and six enlisted personnel, including two fallen soldiers, were given awards for their important role and gallantry during the siege.
They are Lt. Col. Oriel Pangcog (Distinguished Conduct Star); Capt. Reynir Nirza (Distinguished Conduct Star); Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo (Distinguished Service Star); Brig. Gen. Rodelik Santos (Distinguished Service Star); Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala (Distinguished Service Star); 1st Lt. Francis Damian (Gold Cross Medal – posthumous); 1st Lt. Jerson Jurilla (Gold Cross Medal); 1st Lt. Ian Dexter Carin (Gold Cross Medal); Lt. Jg. Grade Joey Cayao (Gold Cross Medal); Sgt. Larry Lopez (Gold Cross Medal); F1Mr. Abelardo Angelo (Gold Cross Medal); Sgt. Salvador Codon Jr. (Gold Cross Medal); Sgt. Allan Adap (Gold Cross Medal); Capt. Eduardo Saquing Sr. (Gold Cross Medal—posthumous); Maj. Caezar Almer Candelaria (Bronze Cross Medal); Maj. Rene Aureo (Military Merit Medal); Capt. Dranreb Lansang (Military Merit Medal); and Pfc. Edgardo Jose (Wounded Personnel Medal).
In his speech, President Aquino expressed his gratitude to all soldiers who died for their countrymen.
Their bravery, he said, will serve as model of exemplary performance not only to the people today, but also to next generations.
“Taos-puso po tayong nagpupugay at nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng ating mga sundalo’t pulis na buong tapang na nakipaglaban para sa kaligtasan ng ating mga Boss. Habambuhay pong babantayog ang inyong dedikasyon at propesyunalismo sa kasaysayan; magsisilbi kayong huwaran di lamang ng kasalukuyang henerasyon, kundi maging ng susunod na salinlahi.,” Aquino added
About three brigades, or some 4,000 troops were deployed in the city to engage the Moro National Liberation Front since the fighting.
Over 200 had been killed from the fighting. Nineteen from the fatalities were soldiers.
The President, meanwhile, commended Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista for their successful handling of the crisis. CATHERINE S. VALENTE