From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 16): 73rd IB officer bestowed 2nd highest military award
A rookie military officer assigned at the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the 1002nd Brigade Philippine Army was among the awardees honored during the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy Class 2015 in Baguio City, Sunday, March 15.
President Benigno Aquino III, during the PMA Class 2015 graduation ceremony, bestowed 2nd Lt. Jerson Sanchez a Distinguished Conduct Star Medal, the second highest military award.
Lt. Col. Felix Ronnie Babac, commanding officer of 73rd IB, said Sanchez, a member of PMA Class 2014, was honored for his gallantry in action during an encounter with armed rebels in February.
Sanchez and his team were patrolling the area on February 16 when they chanced upon 40 members of the New People’s Army in Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel, Sarangani, where gunfight ensued.
The encounter resulted in the recovery of nine high-powered firearms and death of seven NPA members including seasoned communist leader Tolentino Bariquit alyas Brigol.
Five of the seven NPA fatalities were identified as leaders of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 71. Recovered from the group were 6 M-16 rifles, 2 AK-47s, and a baby Armalite.
In the succeeding days, 11 more members from the group surrendered and one of them brought with him a high powered firearm.
Pursuit operation yielded another high powered firearm in the neighboring barangay.
Babac said, President Aquino’s recognition of the Sanchez in front of the graduating class sets an inspiration to the young officers to dedicate themselves in service to the people and in securing the nation.
As the commanding officer, Babac said he takes pride of Sanchez’ achievement who will be the example of many young officers in doing their job excellently.
Babac further disclosed that the other soldiers involved in the same encounter were awarded with Military Merit Medal interim to Gold Cross Medal by no less than the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen, Hernando Iriberri.
Iriberri came to the battalion headquarters of 73rd IB in Malita, Davao Occidental on February 27 to pin the awards on the soldiers.
He said that those who claim that the BBL provides “excessive powers” are wrong and that they were tying themselves with the “base and meaning of the words.”
“When we look at the BBL, we must look at the vision, spirit, core principles… If we are going to have a new social order as mandated by the 1987 Constitution, then we must start with these areas (Muslim Mindanao and Cordilleras) that are most failure in terms of human development, oppression and neglect for centuries… because of armed conflicts,” he explained.
The former chair of the 1986 Constitutional Commission noted the unreasonable opposition by some lawmakers and other sectors to the Bangsamoro even extends to the proposed form of government for the new political entity, which under the draft BBL would be parliamentary.
Monsod also noted that there is “no prohibition in the Constitution for LGUs to have a parliamentary set-up.”
He cited Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution provides that an organic act “shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units.”
According to the proposed BBL, the Bangsamoro Assembly would be composed of district seats and sectoral members to be elected by Bangsamoro voters.
Reserved seats have been allocated for some sectors such as women and the indigenous people. The head of the Bangsamoro government would be the Chief Minister, who would be elected among the members of the Bangsamoro Assembly. The Chief Minister would be assisted by a Cabinet composed of members of the legislature, most of which would come from the assembly.
“We need to give them more autonomy as envisaged by the Constitution. And this is what the BBL is about… What we need at this time is not a legalistic approach but judicial statesmanship,” Monsod explained.