Filipino Peacekeepers Receive UN Medals

 

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The members of the 6th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights (6PCGH), also known as the "Professional Peacekeepers" proudly received the UN Medals during the Medal Parade Ceremony on 23rd March 2013 held at Camp Ziouani, Golan Heights.

Maj Gen Iqbal Singh Singha, UNDOF Force Commander and Head of Mission and Philippine Ambassador to Israel, His Excellency Generoso D.G. Calonge were the guests of honor and speakers at the ceremony. They led the pinning of the UNDOF Medals to the awardees.

Lt Col Nolie Anquillano, commanding officer of the Philippine battalion led the Filipino peacekeepers in receiving the UNDOF Medal for their vast accomplishments and for the excellent performance of the mandated tasks for the past four months.

One of the significant accomplishments of the unit was the act of heroism involving risk of life by 31 personnel spearheaded by Lt Col Nolie L Anquillano, CO PHILBATT in the rescue/evacuation operations of personnel of OP 58 namely, Maj Felipe Schaffhauser, Capt Jarrod Turner and Capt Alexandria Bojilova, Observer Group Golan (OGG) Damascus, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) despite the heavy shelling and airstrikes in Al-Jamlah village in Syria on 3rd March 2013 during the firefight between the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and the rebels. The rescued OGG officers from New Zealand, Australia and Canada were trapped inside the village when their barracks were hit by indirect fires that ruined the power supply and communication facilities of the said military establishment.

Also, one of the awardees, TSgt Herman Galiza was acknowledged for his courage while driving during a military convoy transporting the Croatian and Austrian soldiers from Camp Faouar to Damascus International Airport when they were suddenly sprayed with bullets by unknown perpetrators while on their way to Damascus City on 29 and 30 November 2012. TSgt Galiza was able to maintain his composure and successfully brought his passengers safely to the Airport.

In his speech, Lt Col Anquillano congratulated the recipients of the UN medal and said it should serve as their inspiration to work even harder. He urged every peacekeeper to continue displaying world-class professionalism at all times in conformity of the 6PCGH's dictum "Professional Peacekeepers committed to serve with pride and honor."

He expressed his sincere gratitude for the support and inspiration of the UNDOF leadership, complimented with the harmonious working relationship and support accorded by the different contingents. He also extended his sincere thanks to the empowering guidance and unqualified assistance accorded by the leadership of the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel with the Embassy officials as well as the officers and members of the Filipino community in Israel.

H.E. Calonge, in his message, congratulated his fellow Filipino UN Peacekeepers for the well-deserve UN medals. He reiterated the pronouncement of the president of the Philippines that the government remains committed to deploying troops in the United Nations peacekeeping mission areas, which include the Golan region despite the hostage-taking incident of 21 PHILBATT personnel that transpired on March 6-9, 2013.

In his speech, Maj Gen Singha appreciated the dedication and commitment of the Filipino peacekeepers for the last four months even to the time of crisis when 21 PHILBATT troopers were forcibly taken by unidentified armed elements for four days.

"The manner which you conduct yourselves in the mission area is very impressive and praiseworthy. I am impressed with your professionalism, dedication and commitment to the mandate of the mission," he said.

Other attendees were the Chief of Staff of UNDOF Colonel Cirilito Sobejana, the Philippine National Contingent Commander, UNDOF staffs, liaison officers of the Israeli Defence Force, and the contingent commanders of India and Austria, Commanding Officer of OGG, UTSO, Philippine embassy officials and the Filipino communities in Israel.

After the ceremony, selected members of PHILBATT presented several cultural dances of the Philippines, which mesmerized the viewers. The celebration was jibed with the 116th Philippine Army Founding Anniversary.

The Philippines has been sending peacekeepers in different countries since 1950s after the world war two (WW II) that includes Korea, Congo, Abyei, Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kashmir, Kosovo Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan and Timor Leste.

 

Article by Maj Arnold Gasalatan, PIO PHILBATT

Photo by SSgt Rolynbert Pablo, Photographer PHILBATT