PAGCOR releases financial aid to war heroes

Saturday | December 23, 2017 | 5:20 PM

PAGCOR releases financial aid to war heroes
PAGCOR Director Reynaldo Concordia (8th from right), VP for Community Relations Group Jimmy Bondoc (11th from left) and AVP for Community Relations Arnell Ignacio (5th from right) join AFP’s Order of Lapu-lapu awardees during AFP’s 82nd anniversary.

In his seven years of service in the Philippine Navy, 1st Lt. Jeffrey Odmen has already been sent to difficult missions. But if there is one life-changing assignment that he considers most challenging at this point of his career, it was his deployment in Marawi at the height of the government’s fight against the Maute terrorist group.

From May 27 to October 23, Odmen’s platoon fought the Maute terrorists with courage and bravery – amidst unfamiliar battle terrains, well-planned war tactics, and the risk of losing one’s life. “Hindi namin alam ang dadatnan namin nang i-deploy kami sa Marawi. The area was well-defended and well-entrenched. But we tried our best to outsmart the enemy,” he narrated.

Odmen is one of over 1,500 soldiers who were wounded during the Marawi siege. His right hand was hit by shrapnel during a grenade blast. Even now that the war is over, the shrapnel is still buried in his right hand.

But the young and courageous platoon leader considers himself lucky compared to his comrades who did not survive the conflict.

As of October 2017, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that 162 uniformed personnel died in combat. This number does not include those who are still missing and unaccounted for.

To pay tribute to the bravery of the Filipino soldiers who fought during the Marawi conflict, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) released P24.22 million financial assistance for the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) uniformed personnel who were either killed or wounded during the conflict.

The families of soldiers who were killed in action received P50,000 each while those who were wounded received P10,000 to P20,000.

PAGCOR released the cash gifts during AFP’s 82nd anniversary in Camp Aguinaldo on December 20, 2017 and at the PNP’s Multi-Purpose Hall on December 18, 2017.

Apart from PAGCOR’s cash gift, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte honored AFP and PNP’s casualties and injured. The Order of Lapu-lapu award was given to wounded AFP soldiers and PNP personnel while Medals of Valor and Order of Lapu-lapu were awarded to those who were killed in action.

Duterte, who graced AFP’s anniversary expressed his gratitude to all uniformed personnel who defended the country from the terrorist attacks. “I salute the brave men and women of our Army, Air Force and Navy for their courage, dedication and sacrifice to liberate Marawi from the clutches of extremist terrorists and communist insurgents. Having said that, may I also extend my gratitude to our police force and other personnel in government who fought alongside with you,” he said.

The President added that although rehabilitation efforts have started in Marawi, “our fight is far from over, hence the need to remain vigilant as we continue our intensified military operations against the remaining terrorist groups.”

“I now return the favor to our troops who made the supreme sacrifice, suffered injuries and went beyond the call of duty. Be assured that the government will support all of your endeavors as we realize a stronger and more resilient government,” he furthered.

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