PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte told soldiers he is ready “to die with you” as he gave recognition to 11 wounded fighters in a ceremony held at Camp General Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu.
Duterte visited the military camp on Monday and conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the rank of Kampilan to 11 soldiers wounded in the May 31 encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Bgy. Pansul, Patikul.
The recipients of the award were Cpl. Arsenio Opaco Jr., Cpl. Sonny Jumoc, Pfc. Edwin Yurong, Pfc. Edeson Alom, Pfc. Abduhasad Baladji, Pcf. Joevertt Ramirez, Pvt. Dominic Osorio, Pvt. Jeric Peñaredondo, Pvt. Raymund Balambao, Pvt. Ramil Diaz Jr., and Pvt. Albert Daligdig.
Duterte also awarded the Gold Cross Medal to Lt. Col. Abdulmoel Alamaia, Lt. Col. Ronaldo Amteo, 1st Lt. Romel Pacer, 1st Lt. Geronimo Vergara, Cpl. Ariel Sanchez, Cpl. Engelbert Tañan, and Cpl. Reylan Busmeon.
Duterte also led the donning of ranks to Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo and Brig. Gen. Andres Centino.
“Sa panahon na kailangan ninyo ang inyong commander-in-chief to be with you, beside you, and to die with you, nandito ako sa mga panahon na ‘yan,” Duterte said in his speech before the troops.
Duterte, who has doubled the salary of the military, to give the soldiers’ hazard pays.
The President also reiterated his call for the Moro people to make peace with the government, saying his administration is ready to extend assistance to them.
Duterte said Malacañang would ask the National Housing Authority to build shelters for the Moros, especially the Tausugs.
Despite his offer of assistance, the Chief Executive assured the public he would not tolerate brutality as he said that Islam is a great religion but has been corrupted by the Islamist extremists.