Filipino Army officer honored posthumously with Dag Hammarskjold Medal for heroic UN peacekeeping job

May 27, 2009 1:22 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, May 27 — The late Filipino Army officer Lt. Col. Renerio Batalla, who served with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Sudan, will be honored posthumously when the Philippines celebrates its first "International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers" on Friday, May 29, as mandated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Batalla died of malaria on October 24 last year while on duty. His widow, Immaculate Batalla, will be presented the Dag Hammarskjold Medal, a posthumous award for members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.

Last April 16, President Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 1755, declaring May 29 of each year as the “International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in the Philippines.” This was also in keeping with UN General Assembly Resolution 57/129 of 2002.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is hosting the inaugural inter-agency Philippine celebration, keynoted by Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, chair of the Philippine Inter-Agency Council on UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Soe Nyunt-U, the acting UN Resident Coordinator in Manila, will convey a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the dedicated service of Filipino peacekeepers in the world’s troubled spots.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is the third largest troop contributor and ranks 30th in the world.

The Philippines has sent peacekeeping missions all over the world beginning with the air force deployment in support of the UN Mission in the Congo in 1963. Subsequent missions were sent to Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Nepal, Sudan and Timor-Leste.

Through the years, Philippine peacekeepers have earned the respect and recognition of the United Nations because of “their outstanding performance and tireless commitment to maintain global peace and security,” the DFA said,

Last October, Ban Ki-moon and Romulo signed the Memorandum of Understanding allowing the Philippines to participate in the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) to provide resources for peacekeeping operations within agreed response times.

The deployment of female peacekeepers is being considered by the Philippines in observance of this year’s theme of greater involvement by women in UN peacekeeping missions, DFA also said.

About 80 former UN peacekeepers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), as well as ambassadors and representatives from Troop and Police Contributing Countries stationed in Manila are among those gracing Friday's occasion. (PNA)

scs/GJB

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