THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) awarded medals to five soldiers wounded during the firefight with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a simple ceremony at Camp Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo, Sulu, yesterday morning.
Awarded with the Wounded Personnel Medal were 2Lt. Joelimar Sulit, T/Sgt. Mario de Guzman Jr., Sgt. Berhamin Jumdana, Pfc. Deborah Paracuelles and Pvt. Michael Andre Atega.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of JTF Sulu, personally pinned the medals on the wounded troopers who are recuperating at the Station Hospital.
“This is one way of recognizing the bravery and services of our troops in protecting the people of Sulu,” Dela Vega said.
Soldiers continue to scour suspected ASG lairs in Sulu to rescue the remaining kidnap victims. Thirteen hostages -- six Indonesians, six Filipinos and a Norwegian -- have been rescued or released since President Duterte assumed office and ordered an intensified military operations to destroy the ASG and rescue the remaining victims.
Five ASG bandits, including the notorious Muktadil brothers, were killed in the latest operations this week.
Several ASG bandits involved in illegal drugs trade were also arrested in Zamboanga City and in Metro Manila by combined AFP and PNP forces.
The former hostages revealed that ASG members were usually high on illegal drugs.
Reports from line units said drug money is being used by ASG to finance its daily operations in conducting criminal acts, terrorism and anti-Islamic activities.