EVEN if Private First Class (PFC) Ian Paquit was injured in action in Santa Barbara, Zamboanga City when soldiers clashed with members of the Moro National Liberation Front on September 13, he asked to be deployed to the same area when he recovered from his injury.
Eleven days later, Paquit, 21, was killed when a bullet pierced his neck.
On Friday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd bestowed the medal of valor posthumously on Paquit for displaying gallantry and heroism. The soldier’s father, Eduardo, received the award during the 78th founding day of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Paquit, who hailed from Gubac, Pagadian City, was the youngest to receive such a medal. He joined the rank of medal of valor awardees that include, among others, Col. Ariel Querubin, Maj. Gen. Tomas Karingal, Maj. Gen. Paulino Santos, Maj. Gen. Mariano Castaneda and Gen. Rafael Crame
Also honored on Friday were 48 other soldiers, two civilian employees and two Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets for their heroism in Zamboanga, humanitarian and disaster response operations after a powerful earthquake rocked Bohol and Super Typhoon Yolanda leveled entire communities in the Visayas.
“By this display of heroism, PFC Paquit distinguished himself in combat, in keeping with the finest traditions of Filipino soldiery,” the AFP said.
The AFP also bestowed on 13 soldiers the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest military award, for their acts of gallantry. Nine others, two of them posthumously, received the Gold Cross Medal.
They were among the 34 soldiers awarded yesterday for their role in the successful defense of Zamboanga City and were among the over 2,000 soldiers already awarded in line with their contributions in the operations in Zamboanga City.
On Thursday, 115 soldiers and seven civilians were also separately awarded, including Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who received the AFP Command Plaque.