PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte assured wounded soldiers in Jolo, Sulu that he is willing to "die" with them.
Duterte visited the wounded soldiers at Camp General Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
He conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan to the 11 injured soldiers in the camp. Two with major injuries were airlifted to Zamboanga City.
"Sa panahon na kailangan ninyo ang inyong Commander-in-Chief to be with you, beside you, and to die with you, nandito ako sa mga panahon na 'yan (I am here when you need your Commander-in-Chief to be with you, beside you and die with you)," the President said.
The wounded soldiers were among the government forces who clashed with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Pansul village in Patikul, Sulu on May 31.
The 11 soldiers who received the Kampilan medal are: Corporals Arsenio Opaco Jr. and Sonny Jumoc; Privates First Class Ewin Yurong, Edeson Alom, Abduhasad Baladji, and Joevertt Ramirez; and Privates Dominic Osorio, Jeric Peñaredondo, Raymund Balambao, Ramil Diaz, and Albert Daligdig.
The Kampilan medal is conferred on individuals who were "seriously wounded or injured, or suffered great loss of property" as a direct result of their participation in Duterte's campaign or advocacy.
Duterte also awarded the Gold Cross Medal, the fourth highest military award, to Lieutenant Colonels Abdulmeol Alamaia and Ronaldo Amteo; First Lieutenants Romel Pacer and Geronimo Vergara; and Corporals Ariel Sanchez, Engelbert Tañan, and Reylan Busmeon, for their gallantry in action.
The President also led the donning of ranks to Brigadier Generals Divino Rey Pabayo and Andres Centino.
He renewed his vow that the government will continue supporting the military because of their bravery to defend the country.
Duterte, who doubled the salary of the soldiers effective January 2019, also pledged to provide hazard pay amid threats from extremist groups.
The President lamented that while Islam is a "great religion," it has been corrupted by the Islamist extremists.
Duterte then reiterated his call to the Moro people to make peace with the government, stressing his administration's readiness to extend assistance to them.
He said he would ask the National Housing Authority to build shelter for the Moros, especially the Tausugs. (SunStar Philippines)