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President Duterte on Friday personally awarded the wounded medal award to 13 soldiers who were wounded fighting the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and Basilan.
The troops also received P100,000 special financial assistance, additional P10,000 cash, and a caliber Glock 30 from the president.
The Chief Executive first visited Camp General Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu where some of the wounded soldiers are confined.
Duterte also met with the families of soldiers killed in the fighting in Sulu. They were given P250,000 SFA and additional P20,000 cash. Those killed in action were Sgt. Sikal Akjam, Sgt. Abrojer Sakili, Private Joel Decierdo, and Corporal Ronnie Navarro.
“All the wounded and the kin of those killed also received additional financial assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which was handed over by the President,” according to a Malacañang statement.
From Sulu, the commander-in-chief flew to Zamboanga City where he also visited other wounded soldiers confined at Camp Navarro General Hospital.
At the CNGH, Duterte gave the wounded personnel medal and financial assistance to Corporal Ruel P. Clavo of the 14th Scout Ranger Company, Special Operations Command under the Joint Task Force Basilan.
Clavo was among the four soldiers wounded in an explosion while they were conducting patrol in Barangay Sabong, Lamitan City last November 14. Eight other wounded troops also confined at CGGH were likewiwe given financial assistance and caliber Glock 30.
In a press conference that followed his visit to CNGH inside the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command, the President reiterated his call for peace not only with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed component, the New People’s Army; the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but also with the ASG.
“I can be nasty. I can do an all-out war and invade the island but there will be huge losses, pati civilians which is really what matters most,” said Duterte as he stressed his authority as Chief Executive.
The President said that he would not resort to an all-out war against the ASG because he is more concerned about the civilians and worried about huge casualties such an action may inflict upon the local populace. “What matters most are the civilians. Would it bring us peace if we use force?” the President asked.
Duterte also emphasized that it is only hatred that would be gained if he committed to an escalation of the war against the ASG.
Instead of intensifying military operations, the President prefers building hospitals in Sulu. “Ako na mismo ang magtingin na magkaroon ng ospital na maayos,” the President said. (Elena L. Aben)