DND honors South Korea’s Araw Force Contingent for humanitarian acts in Leyte

By Roel T. Amazona

TACLOBAN CITY, June 11 (PNA) — Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday afforded the South Korean Joint Support Group Araw Force Contingent with the Bakas Parangal Award in a ceremony at their base camp in Candahug village of Palo, Leyte.

Bakas Parangal Award in three categories – Kadakilaan, Kabayanihan and Kagitingan – is a recognition bestowed by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) to individuals or groups that provide exemplary services during times of calamities and disaster.

The award is a reminder that what they done in helping victims of disaster do not only save lives but also change lives.

The Araw Contingent is currently in the province of Leyte helping in the rehabilitation of damaged public infrastructures like school buildings and other local government unit structures.

The contingent is focusing its rehabilitation work at the municipalities of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa repairing elementary school buildings and local government structures including hospitals.

”South Korean government is one of the first foreign governments that immediately responded to the request of the Philippine government for international aid after typhoon Yolanda devastated provinces in the central part of the country,” said Gazmin in his speech.

“With this, the Philippine government and its people are thanking the South Korean military contingents in their exemplary heroism, kindness and bravery that marks and appreciated by victims of typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

Gazmin added that this will also strengthen more the bilateral relation and friendship of the Republic of South Korea and the Philippines that was forged 64 years ago when Philippine military and South Korean army fought together in the defense of the freedom of South Korea.

South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee said that the presence of their country’s soldier in the province did not only forge friendship between two military forces but also among locals where they are conducting rehabilitation works.

Araw Forces is assisted by personnel of the 546th engineering construction battalion of AFP assigned in Tacloban City.

“I had seen that you developed a good working environment with your partner soldiers in the rehabilitation of public structures but you also have great time with the locals,” Lee said.

Lee also stressed to the South Korean troops that their experience in Leyte should be a reminder and should give them lesson of how important it is for people of all nation to help each other and live in harmony.

The award was received by Colonel Chulwon Lee, commander of Joint Support Group Araw Force contingent.

Last month the South Korean troops also received a Military Civic Action Medal from Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista.

Wednesday’s awarding ceremony was witnessed by Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla, Tanauan Mayor Pelagio Tecson Jr., Tolosa Mayor Erwin Ocana, AFP Central Commander General John Bonafos, 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Jet Velarmino, OCD executive director Undersecretary Alexander Palma and OCD 8 regional director Blanche Gobienchong.

Prior the ceremony Gazmin inspected government structures that were rehabilitated by the group like the Baras Elementary School, Leyte Provincial Hospital and Pawing Elementary School.

Araw Forces will stay until December of this year and the second batch of their military humanitarian contingents will arrive before the end of this month. (PNA)