Instead of uplifting the morale of its personnel through medals and recognitions, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could be doing otherwise by giving out the coveted Distinguish Conduct Star (DCS), the second highest combat award, to officers who were not directly involved in fire fight during the
During its 78th founding anniversary celebration yesterday with the commander in chief President Aquino as guest of honor, the AFP recognized 53 soldiers and civilian employees, led by Pfc Ian Paquit, of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Company, who was given posthumously the highest award Medal for Valor.
An automatic rifleman of the 3rd SRC, Paquit was cited for “conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty” last Sept. 13 when the military started its calibrated response against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari in
Paquit was hit in the neck during the firefight in Barangay Sta. Barbara. He returned to the conflict area two days later but was again hit by enemy bullet. He went into coma for several days and died Sept. 30.
“Despite his injuries from a previous encounter, Private First Class Ian Paquit returned to ground zero in defense of our people in Zamboanga. His display of heroism and courage during the conduct of a coordinated attack to neutralize the enemy weakened their forces,” the citation said of Paquit.
“With the courage, dedication and sacrifice of Private First Class Ian Paquit, further casualties were avoided and the neutralization of enemy firing positions greatly contributed to the clearing and capture of enemy strongholds. But because of his selfless acts of heroism, a bullet pierced his left neck resulting to his death. The operations resulted to the capture of 41 MNLF fighters and 15 enemies killed,” it added.
The AFP also yesterday awarded 13 additional DCS recipients, including battalion commanders of the operating troops involved in the
On Thursday, the AFP also recognized 14 DCS awardees, some of whom prompted some officers to raise questions on the prevailing standards in giving the coveted award.
The same questions were raised yesterday after six officers, who served as commanders during the
“With due respect to the awardees, but DCS, in my personal view and as stipulated in the handbook, calls for singular act of courage and gallantry in action during actual combat,” an officer told The Tribune after seeking his comments on the awardees.
“The DCS is given to those who showed individual acts of heroism under extraordinary circumstances and intense enemy fire and not just the accomplishment of mission in totality,” he added.
This decoration, as stated in AFP awards and decorations handbook, is awarded to a soldier who distinguishes himself by an extraordinary act of heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Valor; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed enemy.
The act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades.
“In boxing, Manny Pacquiao has Freddie Roach as coach but Pacman does the fighting in the ring and gets the world champion trophy when he wins and not Roach.
“A military commander is like a coach, he plans and directs the operation at the tactical command post and the foot soldiers up to company commanders implement it on the ground,” the source said.
The source, however, admitted that there were exceptional battalion commanders, like Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes and former AFP chief retired Gen. Jessie Dellosa, who joined their soldiers in the frontlines in some operations during their time in the field.
“Really, this (awarding of DCS to those not present in the combat zone) raises questions as to the standard we now observe.
“We cannot help but compare and ask why some of those soldiers actually involved in fighting the enemies in the frontline were only given Gold Cross Medals while those in the back, commanding them received DCS,” the officer added.
The officer added, “really, this does not boost the morale of the soldiers who are receiving difficult missions, risking their lives. This has an effect on the ordinary soldiers.”
The AFP has recognized more than 2,000 soldiers in connection to the 21-day Zamboanga City siege laid by MNLF-Nur Misuari faction last Sept. 9.
The military operation led to the safe rescue of 195 hostages while more than 200 MNLF fighters were killed, along with more than 20 government troops.