GMA  AWARDS  MEDALS  TO  4  PINOY  PEACEKEEPERS  WHO DIED IN HAITI
 

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo leads a hero’s welcome at Villamor Air Base in honor of the four Filipino soldiers assigned with the United Nations peacekeeping force who were killed in the devastating earthquake in Haiti last month. Willy Perez]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 3, 2010 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo and military officials yesterday received the remains of four Filipino peacekeepers who perished in Haiti last month.

The remains of Air Force Sgt. Janice Arocena, Army Special Forces Sgt. Eustacio Bermudez Jr., Navy Data Processor-3 (DP3) Pearly Panagui, and UN volunteer Jerome Yap were brought from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the Philippine Air Force headquarters at Villamor Air Base where they were given military honors.

After a short vigil, the remains of Arocena, Bermudez, and Panagui will be transferred at 7 a.m. today to the St. Ignatius Cathedral in Camp Aguinaldo.

Yap’s remains, meanwhile, will be turned over to his family.

Armed Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said the Military Merit Medal and the UN Service Medal would be awarded posthumously to the deceased peacekeepers “to honor their unselfish services and commitment to peace and security both to our nation and the world at large.”

Brawner said the Military Merit Medal is given to those who rendered “conspicuous and meritorious service which gives credit not only to the AFP but to the entire nation.”

The commanders of each major service determine the recipients of such honor.

The military award is expected to be given today to Arocena, Panagui, and Bermudez. Their families will also receive cash incentives from the AFP.

“We won’t tell how much but the amount is enough for them to start a new life without their loved ones,” Brawner said.

The cash incentive is on top of the $50,000 (around P2.3 million) that will be given by the United Nations to each of the families, and the cash incentive to be given by President Arroyo.

Yap, a civilian, will be given the UN service medal.

“We have lost soldiers but their sacrifices, professionalism and dedication to service within the country and overseas will surely be immortalized,” the AFP said. – Alexis Romero


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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