President Rodrigo Duterte has posthumously conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kalasag, on six soldiers who died in a clash with communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Eastern Samar early this week.
The Commander in Chief, went to Camp General Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City on Friday evening to honor the soldiers killed and wounded in the recent firefight.
Recipients of the award were Staff Sgt. Rex Jadulco, Sgt. Ronaldo Go, Sgt. Limar Banug, Cpl. Junmar Buranday, Cpl. Kent Lloyd Agullo and Private First Class Charlie del Rosario.
Aside from those killed, 24 other soldiers were wounded during the encounter.
Sixteen personnel, confined at the Camp Lukban Station Hospital, were conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kampilan, by the President.
Meanwhile, four other soldiers, injured during separate clashes with the rebels, were also conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu by Duterte.
Critically injured soldiers and police personnel in the Borongan City encounter were also conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kampilan, by the President.
They are recuperating at the Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban City.
Malacañang said the Order of Lapu-Lapu “is given to persons in the government or private sector who have rendered extraordinary service or have made exceptional contributions to the success of the President’s campaign or advocacy.”
“The Kampilan Medal is conferred on persons who were seriously wounded or suffered great loss of property as a direct result of their participation in such action,” the Palace added.
The Kalasag Medal, on the other hand, “is given to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who lost their lives as a direct result of their participation in an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President,” it added.
Dependents of the soldiers killed in action received financial assistance from the government, while other forms of support were extended through the state’s Comprehensive Social Benefit Program.
The injured Philippine Army and police personnel were also given financial support.
Participating agencies under the social benefit program include the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, Trade and Industry, and Health; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Other agencies providing assistance were the National Housing Authority, Commission on Higher Education, National Police Commission and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Earlier, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar condemned the attack on the soldiers, saying it was a clear move to derail the government’s initiative to return NPA rebels to the fold of the law.
“Ito’y malinaw na isang paraan para po i-derail ang Executive Order 70 or ito po ang National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict at ang mga kaakibat po na mga aktibidad ng NTF-ELCAC (This is clearly their way to derail the plans of the NTF-ELCAC),” he said, referring to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The task force aims to convince communist rebels to surrender to the government.
The rebels who will surrender are promised to be assisted by the government as they reintegrate themselves into society.
Duterte was set to meet with farmers from North Cotabato but decided to postpone it to condole with the families of the soldiers who were slain in the Borongan clash.
The military has repeatedly condemned the NPA for using landmines in their attacks, saying their move showed disrespect for basic human rights.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Australia, among others.