CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City—The Armed Forces of the Philippines celebrates its 79th founding anniversary today Thursday (Dec 18) with a theme “Sandatahang Lakas: Ika-79 taong Naglilingkod ng tapat tungo sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganaan”.
The Commander-in-Chief and President, His Excellency Benigno S Aquino III, leads the celebration that highlights a testimonial parade and review showcasing the colorful history of the AFP.
President Aquino awards the deserving military personnel, civilian employees, military reservists and ROTC cadets as part of the momentous event.
“Our anniversary celebration will be modest, but special nonetheless since this is an opportunity to showcase developments in our reform and modernization programs in the AFP,” AFP Spokesman Col Restituto Padilla Jr said.
The celebration opens with Band Drill Exhibitions from the GHQ, Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Navy followed by the Arrival Honors for President Aquino signaling the start of the program proper.
AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio P Catapang Jr. is delivered his welcome remarks followed by the High-Speed Opener, the Presentation of Command and Honors, Inspection of Troops, Honors to the Nation, and the Awarding Ceremony.
Awards for accomplishments
A total of 28 officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees, and cadet reservists will be awarded for their invaluable accomplishments in the service of the people.
Leading the awardees are MGen Oscar Lactao and BGen Alexander Balutan who will receive the Philippine Legion of Honor – Degree of Officer for their exceptionally meritorious and valuable service rendered in a position of major responsibility.
Lactao was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in December 2013 to September 2014 and current Commander of the 4th Infantry Division. On the other hand, Balutan was cited for his numerous accomplishments as the former commander of the 1stMarine Brigade from November 2010 to February 2014 and now Deputy Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command.
The Outstanding Achievement Medal will also be awarded to MGen Victor V Bayani, Col Alvin Francis A Javier, and Col Rolando Joselito D Bautista as Project Manager of three In-House Research and Development Projects; Commander and General Manager of AFP Commissary and Exchange Service; and Project Manager of a Career Development Project respectively.
Receiving the second highest award in the military, the Distinguished Conduct Star, is 1Lt Dante E Espiritu, the Patrol Leader, 1st Scout Ranger Company that encountered over 300 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Talipao, Sulu. Part of his citation reads: “that inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy, thereby showcasing extreme stability under fire and keeping up with the finest traditions of Filipino soldiery.”
Distinguished Service Stars will be given to BGen Vic C Castro, Commander of 702ndBrigade from March 2012 to April 2014; Lt Col Erick Q Escarcha, Group Commander of Tactical Operations Group 11 from April 2013 to April 2014; and Cdr Marcos Y Imperio, Commander of Naval Communications, Electronics, and Information Service Center from September 2007 to March 2014.
Also, Col Jorge B Lomboy of the AFP Peace Process Office and LtCol Glenn joy U Aynera of the Technical Working Group for Cordillera People’s Liberation Army will receive the Gawad sa Kapayapaan award for the successful closure of the peace process with former CPLA rebels in Northern Luzon.
Receiving the Gold Cross Medal, the fourth highest military award, are Cpt Edwin Duclan, Ground Commander of Joint Special Operations Unit 1 in Macalang, Al Barka Basilan; 1Lt Alfie P Ayo, Platoon Leader, 31st Infantry Battalion in Upper Calmayon, Juban, Sorsogon; and SSg Andy R Mejos, 7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights.
The Gawad sa Kaunlaran, an award for meritorious and valuable achievement in the pursuit of socio-economic and non-combat activities, will be awarded to Col Rodrigo T Gregorio, U7, WESMINCOM; Col Joseph M Acosta, Medical Incident Commander in Samar and Leyte; LtCol Reynaldo D Gabinete, Disaster Response Operation Unit in Bohol; and Maj Alano S Abdulhalim, member of CMO in Western Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the Bronze Cross Medal will also be given to LCDR Bennie B Demetillo for their successful anti-illegal drugs campaign; Cpt Carlo C David, UH-1H pilot; and Cpl Antonio A Manipis Jr for heroism following the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda.
Col Glicerio G Peralta, the Commander of 18th Philippine Contingent to Liberia, will also receive his United Nations Service Medal and Ribbon. He was among the 4 peacekeepers who have just finished their quarantine at the AFP Medical Center last week.
CAA Sergio P Ebañez Jr, member of the 17th CAFGU, A Coy, 72nd Infantry Battalion, will receive the Kagitingan sa Barangay award for the risk of life beyond the call of duty during an encounter with over 30 NPAs in Compostela Valley.
The Outstanding Achievement Award (OAM) will also be given to Tsg Joselito E Luna as EP of the year; Mr Nilo B Abaigar as Model Civilian Supervisor of the Year; Dr Shiela R Liboon as Model Civilian Employee of the Year; Cdt LtCol Jan Rogie G Macandili as Male ROTC Cadet of the Year; and Cdt Major Joy Nathalie M Avelino as Female ROTC Cadet of the Year.
(For more photos of the activity you may refer to the link below:)