SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday accorded the Wounded Personnel Medal to 28 soldiers of the 41st Infantry Battalion (41IB) under the Joint Task Force Sulu at the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Busbus, Jolo. The President recognized the gallantry of the 28 soldiers of the 41IB headed by their battalion commander and a junior officer, after sustaining wounds in a three-hour fierce gun battle with an estimated 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said the fierce encounter with the terrorist group resulted in the deaths of 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits and the seizure of two high-powered firearms, in Barangay Upper Laus, Talipao. Awarded were Lieutenant Colonel William George Cordova, 41IB battalion commander; 1st Lieutenant Joe Mari Landicho; Sergeants Randy Balutoc and Samian Calangan; Cpl. Crispin Agoy; Cpl. Brainard Dumondon; Cpl. Ronald Allan Lorenzo; and several others. Meanwhile, four soldiers – Private First Class Freddie Anggaco, Pfc. Ryan Maymaya, Pfc. Bobby Pacas and Private Eugene Pagat are currently in stable condition after undergoing medical procedures. The armed engagement ensued in the middle of the intensified conduct of military operations launched by the Joint Task Force Sulu, in the hope of rescuing the Vietnamese kidnap victims and to neutralize the bandits.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL