PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has conferred medals and gave P2 million cash reward to the marine troops behind the successful rescue of four Indonesian kidnap victims from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in March this year in the province of Tawi-Tawi.

General Cirilito Sobejana, Armed Forces chief-of-staff, on behalf of Duterte, flew to Tawi-Tawi Sunday, May 30, and led the awarding ceremony and the distribution of cash reward.

Sobejana awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross to Colonel Nestor Narag Jr. for the latter's extraordinary achievement as the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Tawi-Tawi deputy commander during the successful rescue of the four Indonesian kidnap victims in March this year in Tawi-Tawi.

Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said Narag orchestrated a comprehensive Fleet-Marine operation and provided command and control to the operating troops who engaged the Abu Sayyaf bandits, which resulted in the death of bandit leader Majan Sahidjuan, alias Apo Mike, and two of his followers.

Silver Cross Medal was awarded to the Special Intelligence Team under the 2nd Marine Brigade, who provided timely intelligence information that led to the successful conduct of focused military and combat clearing operations in Kalupag Island, Languyan and Tandungan Island, Tandubas, both in Tawi-Tawi on March 19 to 24.

Three of the four Indonesians, namely, Riswanto Hayano, 27; Arizal Kastamiran, 29; and Arsyad Dahalan, 41, the fishing boat skipper, were rescued on March 18 off Pasigan Island, South Ubian.

The other Indonesian, Mohd Khairuldin, 15, was rescued March 21 in Kalupag Island, Languyan.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits seized them from a Sabah-registered trawler on January 16, 2020 in the waters between Tambisan and Kuala Meruap, Lahad Datu, Sabah, close to the Philippine sea border.

Sobejana congratulated the awardees and lauded the hard work and dedication of the marine troops in accomplishing their mission.

"We have to make ourselves happy all the time so that we become more productive. I always translate happiness into productivity regardless of where we are," Sobejana said.

"To the commanders, let us always strike a good balance on mission accomplishment and the morale and welfare of our soldiers," he added.

Sobejana handed over Duterte's P2-million cash reward to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 (MLT-6) for the successful neutralization of Apo Mike.

The awarding ceremony and handing over of monetary reward were held around 10 a.m. Sunday, May 30, at the covered court of the 2nd Marine Brigade headquarters in Sanga-Sanga village, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

After the ceremony, Sobejana, together with Vinluan and other military officers, paid a courtesy call on Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali purposely to discuss the projects and programs of the national government and AFP for the province. (SunStar Zamboanga)

Source: SunStar (