MANILA, Philippines – Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco received the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command Plaque on Thursday, December 19.
She was cited for her “invaluable support to the AFP particularly in the successful defense of Zamboanga City last September against hundreds of rogue Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members.”
Frontline soldiers were also awarded medals for various military operations – 15 received the Distinguished Conduct Star award, 40 received the Gold Cross Medal, 8 received the Distinguished Aviation Cross, 6 received the Distinguished Naval Cross, 15 received the Bronze Cross Medal, and 10 received the Military Merit Medal. (READ: The Heroes of Zamboanga: Lessons)
The awardees include soldiers fighting insurgents but a bulk of them were deployed to Zamboanga City to deal with the MNLF rebels who seized the city in September.
“This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, accomplishment of the Armed Forces in our recent history because of the number of hostages that we rescued,” said AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista.
It is the latest of several batches of awarding ceremonies for over 2,000 soldiers who were deployed to face the MNLF rebels.
The celebrations will culminate on Friday, December 20, for the 78th founding anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. A Medal of Valor award, the highest award a soldier can receive in his career, is expected.
Some 400 followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari attacked Zamboanga on September 9 and aimed to hoist their flag at the City Hall. They were blocked by government forces, resulting in the 20-day standoff.
The military recorded 141 rebels killed and 173 others who were either captured or surrendered during the standoff. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com