MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to award Medal of Valor to 42 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers killed in Mamasapano fiasco "should be respected."
“The President already signed last February 8 the posthumous conferment of the Medal of Valor to 44 SAF members. The appointment office is still working on the schedule of the awarding ceremony,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told a press conference.
“So I think we need to respect the President’s judgment call,” he added.
Abella’s statement came after Retired Air Force General Ramon Farolan questioned the granting of Medal of Valor to 42 SAF commandos, who were killed in an encounter with Moro fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.
The SAF was launching an entrapment operation against terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Bassit Usman when the Moro combatants attacked them, claiming the lives of 67 people, including 44 elite police.
In a letter dated February 8, the President declared all the slain SAF commandos as Medal of Valor awardees “for acts of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of live and limb above and beyond the call of duty.”
Farolan, however, said that the Medal of Valor is an award that is “not easily granted” and “must not be given wholesale.”
In an opinion piece published Monday at the newspaper The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Farolan noted that there have been only 40 Medal of Valor awardees: 27 from the Philippine Army, eight from the Philippine Marines, three from the defunct Philippine Constabulary, and two from the Philippine Air Force.
“The sudden mass conferment, in response to family pleas, has drawn widespread criticism from both AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP elements… The [Medal of Valor] must not be given wholesale. It is a singular act of exceptional and uncommon heroism by a soldier that sets him apart from the rest,” Farolan said.
“It must not be trivialized, abused, demeaned, or devalued. Otherwise, the medal loses its honor and prestige. This action sets a bad precedent and would open a floodgate for indiscriminate awarding of the [Medal of Valor]. This cheapens the award and might weaken the institution and system of AFP awards,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)