PGMA orders awards, promotions for soldiers involved in martial law implementation

December 24, 2009 11:13 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 24 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commended on Thursday morning the professionalism and inherent desire for peace of Filipino soldiers who effectively implemented martial law in Maguindanao last Dec. 4-11, following the Nov. 23 bloody massacre of 57 people, most of them journalists.

Speaking at the 74th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the President said medals and promotions will be given to deserving men and women who carried out Proclamation Order 1959, declaring martial law in Maguindanao and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus that lasted eight days.

“If anything positive should come out of the terrible tragedy in Maguindanao, it is that the heartbeat of peace and human rights is very much alive, made possible by the civilian condemnation of the terrible violence and the admirable behavior of our troops who implemented martial law and the positive development that we are once again in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” the President said.

“We are gratified that in the midst of martial law in Maguindanao, we are able to resume formally our peace negotiations with the MILF,” she said.

She asked soldiers to continue building bridges with the local people through Kalayaan Barangay projects that build schools, bridges, and farm-to-market roads. The President noted that those involved in Kalayaan Barangay projects have been given recognition and awards in today’s AFP rites.

“These projects have improved the quality of life of the people in these areas rendered vulnerable to the tyrant calls of rebellion and terrorism because of poverty,” she said.

The President stressed her administration has staunchly pursued the modernization of the Armed Forces alongside raising the soldiers’ salaries and incentives to the level of school teachers.

“I have also expanded housing and other benefits, including scholarships for family members and more protection for the soldiers in their retirement with the help of government and private institutions like the Philippine Association of State Colleges and Universities, which had been a good partner in providing scholarships, and the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association for the retirement benefits,” she said.

“We have also made sure the families of soldiers killed in battle will be provided for at least during the grieving period,” she added.

She thanked Filipino soldiers “for the many ways they rendered service to the Filipino people. Those assigned to implement Martial Law in Maguindanao showed our people that the Philippines is a law abiding, democratic nation and respect human rights.”

She commended soldiers who participated in the relief and rescue operations during storms Ondoy and Pepeng in September and October and the imminent eruption of Mayon Volcano, which raised the need to evacuate people to safer grounds, “who have shown the meaning of courage and sacrifice outside the battle field.”

“Hindi lang sa salita kayo pinasasalamatan. Pati na rin sa mga benepisyo. Kaya kayong mga sundalo, ipagpatuloy natin ang pagtugis sa mga kalaban na sumisira sa kapayapaan at kabuhayan ng sambayanan (We do not just thank you with words but with incentives. To our soldiers, please continue running after terrorists who destroy the peace and livelihood of our people),” she said.

“Don’t stop until we have brought final peace and prosperity throughout the country. Let us pursue the soldier’s mandate for peace and to help during calamities and storms,” the Commander-in-Chief declared. (PNA)

scs/OPS/ssc

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