President Duterte awards medals, provide financial aid to wounded soldiers

ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has awarded medals and provided financial assistance to 21 soldiers wounded in the ongoing focus military operations against the lawless Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

Duterte awarded the medals when he visited on Friday the wounded soldiers at Jolo Station Hospital in Jolo, Sulu and Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Twelve of the 21 wounded soldiers were admitted at the Jolo Station Hospital while the remaining nine at CNGH.

The names of the 12 soldiers who are awardees of Military Merit Medals and admitted at Jolo Station Hospital were not immediately available while those admitted at CNGH were the following: SSgt. Peter Ugsod; Sgt. Amilkhaidar Tagayan; Sgt. Julbasar Julhasirin; Cpl. Randy Ivan Gusman; Cpl. Roel Clavo; PFC Elmer Dela Cruz; PFC Reynante Malen; and, Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) Emar Akalul.

Westmincom said Clavo and Mendoza were wounded in a roadside bombing and “enemy fires coming from the high ground” while they were conducting security patrol on November 14 in Barangay Sabong, Lamitan City, Basilan.

Gusman, Dela Cruz and Akalul were wounded when they were attacked by ASG brigands on November 18 in Barangay Dugaa, Tuburan, Basilan.

The rest that included Malen, Julhasirin, Tagayan, and Ugsod were injured during a fire fight against the ASG on Nov. 18 in Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu.

Duterte said the full military operation against the ASG would continue but hinted he is willing to talk to them to end the fighting.

He said he cannot order the invasion of Sulu to get rid of the ASG brigands but it will incur huge losses.