By FRANCIS WAKEFIELD
A soldier who died in the line of duty during the Marawi crisis was awarded with the Medal of Valor by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the military’s 82nd founding anniversary at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte led the awarding of the medal to the late Army Capt. Rommel Sandoval of the 11th Scout Ranger Company for his courage, gallantry, and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in Marawi City.
His wife, Maria Ana Rosario Sandoval, personally received the honor.
Sandoval is the 41st soldier to be awarded AFP’s highest honor. Of the awardees, 17 are still alive while the rest are deceased.
Capt. Sandoval was also conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Magalong Medal).
Newly-installed AFP Public Affairs chief Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said 27 soldiers were also given the Order of Lapu-Lapu for their role in various military operations against the Maute-IS and New People’s Army.
The following 23 soldiers, wounded as a direct result of their participation during the Marawi campaign against Isis-inspired Maute terrorists, received the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kampilan Medal): Lt. Col. Ramon P. Flores, 1st Lieutenants Paul Albert L. Ematong, Jerwin F. Valencia, June Steve A. Puno, Jeffrey M. Odmen; Sergeants Elmer C. Dagohoy and Reymund G. Pocua; Corporals Leoprado K. Pendon, Erven M. Dacumos, Nestor B. Sombreno, Ivan G. Lirazan, Eden Charl T. Baul, Jerome R. Benavente, Eduardo L. Villanueva Jr., and Bryan Harris O. Naelgas; PFC’s Genesis L. Pancho, Francis J. Fabros, Albert Q. Layco, Reynaldo L. Ugali Jr., Sunmar A. Bactol, and Renie A. Abbang; and Privates’ Marl Clifford L. Caabay and Jhosel P. Servando.
For having been wounded-in-action while leading elements from the Philippine Air Force, Intelligence Service of the AFP and Philippine National Police in a series of encounters against more or less 30 fully armed communist terrorists on November 28, 2017 in Nasugbu, Batangas, the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kampilan Medal) was awarded to Major Engelberto A. Nioda Jr.
The encounter resulted in the death of 14 NPA rebels and recovery of 14 high-powered firearms.
Meanwhile, for acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry in action during the conduct of military operations against the Maute in Marawi City, Sgt. Edwin M. Osario was awarded the Order or Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi Medal).
For gallantry in action displayed as a member of the operating troops 84th Infantry Battalion during a series of decisive engagements with more or less 15 fully armed NPA rebels in Nueva Ecija on September 20, 2017 that resulted in the death of nine rebels, the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi Medal) was awarded to Sgt. Marvin E. Paderan.
Lastly, for gallantry in action displayed as a member of the 73rd Infantry Battalion during a series of encounters against undetermined number of NPA fighters in Sarangani Province on February 12, 2017 that resulted in the capture of seven rebels and recovery of seven high-powered firearms, the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi Medal) was also awarded to Corporal Andy O. Bitoon.