JOLO — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, April 9, led the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan in Sulu and thanked the Filipino soldiers for defending the country and protecting freedom.
In his speech to the troops stationed at Camp Teodulfo Bautista, the President said that, as the entire country commemorates the gallantry of thousands of Filipino soldiers who defended Bataan in 1942, his administration also honors and acknowledges Filipino troops today for their relentless efforts to fight lawless elements that threaten the country’s security.
“I am especially pleased with our military’s recent accomplishments against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Your efforts have brought us even closer to our ultimate objective of totally crushing the violent extremism at
its roots. With this, I can confidently declare that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines, ” he said.
“I salute you and give you honor…to the valiant soldiers who were injured or who gave their lives during the recent military operations here in Sulu. Let me assure you that you have — the government [will] continue to prioritize your welfare and that of your families,” he added.
The President also underscored that during the conflict in Marawi, he immediately released P500 million for those military personnel who needed further medical assistance. He then vowed to continue allocating additional funds to support the Filipino soldiers.
Moreover, he made an assurance that in the last three years of his administration, the Armed Forces of the Philippines would have funds for the soldiers’ retirement pay and for the education of their children.
The Commander-in-Chief affirmed that his administration would continue the implementation of the AFP Modernization Program for the soldiers to perform their mandates efficiently.
Towards the end of his speech, President Duterte expressed his sincerest gratitude to the soldiers in behalf of the Filipino people. “To our troops, please know that the Filipino people are eternally indebted to you. Utang na loob ‘yan, and you know gratitude is a trait…it’s a virtue of every Filipino… of a grateful nation. I thank you for your enduring patriotism in the face of adversity,” he said.
“May we all be inspired by our forebears’ shining example as we do our best to triumph against the ills of terrorism, corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality that have hampered our country’s growth for so long,” he added.
Upon his arrival at Camp Teodulfo Bautista, the President led the wreath-laying ceremony with 21-gun salute. The President was joined by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr., AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, and Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo.
After the commemoration, the President also honored 17 wounded soldiers in separate clashes with the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu.
The soldiers who received the award were 1st Lt. Christian Pascasio (PA), SSgt. Pastor Napolis (PA), Sgt. Marjun Ortega (PA), Sgt. Jerry Rocha (PA), Sgt. Mark Joseph Pinlac (PA), Cpl. Aladin Benedicto (PA), Cpl. Leandro Narzoles (PA), Pfc. Eugene Celino (PA), Pfc. Jay-Ar Kinggan (PA), Pvt. Jerome Mariano (PA), Pvt. Jaycee Gleyo (PA), Pvt. Ronel Carecio (PA), Pfc. Rowel Salibad (PA), Pfc. Arnold Manabat (PA), Pfc. Raim Pannal (PA), Pvt. Billy Joe Balnao (PA), and Pvt. Jomar Pablo (PA).
The soldiers received the Order of Lapu-Lapu with Rank of Kampilan as an award for their bravery in pursuing the President’s advocacies. Apart from the award, the wounded soldiers also received cash assistance from President Duterte. ### PND