Peacekeepers given Army awards

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A day after they were honored by President Benigno Aquino 3rd,   members of the  7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights received another heroes’ welcome and due recognition by their mother unit, the Philippine Army.

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Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri on Thursday  awarded the  336-man Filipino peacekeepers, led by Col. Ezra James Enriquez,  with the Sagisag ng Ulirang Kawal medal for their role in bringing about international peace for the Syrian and Israel governments.

The Sagisag ng Ulirang Kawal Medal is awarded to a military personnel of the AFP who has distinguished himself conspicuously in the performance of non-military activities and community development programs and other related activities, which merit public recognition.

The 7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights is reputed to have displayed world-class professionalism when its members defended their post during a standoff in Golan Heights in August.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said even as the government withdrew the Filipino forces from Golan Heights, the Philippines remains committed to serve in UN peacekeeping operations.

“While performing its international commitment, it is also paramount for the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to ensure that Filipino peacekeepers in Liberia, Haiti and Golan Heights be given adequate support and protection,” he added.

On Wednesday, the peacekeepers were also feted by the President with a heroes’ welcome in Malacañang, capped with the awarding of two Distinguished Service Medals and eight Gold Cross Medals to members of the contingent.

After their withdrawal from Golan Heights, AFP chief Gen. Pio Catapang announced the 7th  Philippine Contingent and as well as their supposed replacement, the 8th Contingent, would form part of the security of Pope Francis when he visits the country early next year.

Catapang said the Filipino peacekeepers’ exposure and experience in Syria would be put to better use during the papal visit.

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