The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers 2016 awardees

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TOPS-Ten Commissioned and Non-Commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are proclaimed as this year’s awardees of the Metrobank Foundation – Rotary Club Makati Metro Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS). The announcement was made during a Press Conference held on June 20, 2016 at the General Headquarters of the AFP in Camp Aguinaldo. The winners were also presented to acting AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda and other members of the AFP during the flag raising ceremony.

The awardees from the Philippine Army are: Lieutenant Colonel Eliglen Ferrer Villaflor PA, Technical Sergeant Danilo delos Santos Ramos PA, and Technical Sergeant Bernardo Labao Tacbas PA. On the other hand, the awardees from the Philippine Navy are: Lieutenant Wilfredo Baylon Manalang, Jr. PN(M), Staff Sergeant Albert Dangan Eleazar PN(M) and Intelligence Specialist Chief Fernando Junio Parcon PN. While Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Alina Bañaria PAF, Master Sergeant Abel Lim Idusma PAF and Technical Sergeant Andersen Daing Avellana PAF are the winners from the Philippine Air Force. Meanwhile, Colonel Jocelyn Pancrudo Turla, from the Technical Administrative Services completes this year’s batch of winners.

“The Search for TOPS is the civilian society’s expression of genuine appreciation and gratitude for the men and women in the Armed Forces – for their sacrifices and dedication in pursuing our shared dreams of a safe and peaceful nation. We believe that the civilian and private sector’s support, cooperation, admiration, and respect should accompany the role of our soldiers as protectors of our sovereignty and defenders of our national patrimony. This year, we welcome a new batch of Outstanding Philippine soldiers who selflessly serve and protect our nation. They are considered as our modern-day heroes who showed not only unremarkable courage and nationalism, but concern for other people and their communities as well. They are our country’s pride and hope for a peaceful and secured nation,” said Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña.

A multi-sectoral Preliminary and Final Board of Judges selected this year’s finalists. The members of the Preliminary Board of Judges were: De La Salle University College of Law Dean, Atty. Jose Manuel I. Diokno; Ateneo de Manila Law School Dean, Atty. Sedfrey M. Candelaria; CNN Philippines Anchor and Host, Amelyn Veloso; TV5 TV and radio anchorman, Martin M. Andanar; International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) Board of Trustee and Corporate Secretary, Jose T. Deles, Jr.; Philippine Council for Evangelical Churches (PCEC) National Director, Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Secretary-General, Fr. Marvin Mejia.

The Final Board of Judges who chose this year’s winners was chaired by Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, Andres B. Reyes, Jr., and Civil Service Commission Chairperson, Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala. The members of the Final Board were:TV5 Network, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Ramon C. Lorenzana; Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose de Nueva Ecija, Most Rev. Roberto C. Mallari; PLDT-Smart Foundation, Inc. President, Esther O. Santos; Cathay Pacific Steel Corporation President, David O. Chua, and St. Louis University President, Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, CICM, Ph.D.

“This is a humbling experience for me. I’m really emotionally touched because I could feel for their hard work, their hardships, I could understand their problems and shared for hope for a better country,” said Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Andres B. Reyes, Jr. “This is the first time I see hand to hand personally how they act, they live, what are their dreams, how do they manage to be good soldiers, despite of all the obstacle that the country gives them,” Reyes added.

The awardees will be presented as Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos together with the winners of the Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT) and Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS) on September 5 as part of Metrobank’s anniversary celebration.Each TOPS awardee will receive an increased cash prize of half-a-million pesos (PhP 500,000.00) and a trophy.

Among this year’s awardee is Lt. Col. Eliglen Ferrer Villaflor of the Philippine Army who was at the forefront of the combat and civil military mission in Basilan. As Commanding Officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, he was able to significantly contribute to the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless elements — with the recapture of a rebel stronghold and recovery of other encampments and firearms. There were also several rebels killed and injured in a series of encounters against the Abu Sayyaf in his two-year stint. He also led the capture of Jerry Ibon Alam, one of the most wanted figures in illegal drugs in Basilan.

Lt. Col. Villaflor believes that achieving peace could not be resolve by combat alone, but through working with the communities and winning their support. His civil military operations have highly impacted Basilan where thousands have received the benefits of his initiatives. “From Camp to School, From Guns to Books” was one of his successful campaigns where the military was able to transform a captured Moro National Liberation Front camp into a school campus. Lt. Col. Villaflor also pioneered Project Masjid where non-Muslim entities participated in the preparation and celebration of Ramadan. Initiated activities involved cleaning and beautification of mosques and peace keeping and security of the mosques and Muslim brothers and sisters.

We also have TSgt Andersen Daing Avellana from the Philippine Air Force. TSgt Avellana has undergone numerous specialty courses such as the Basic Electronic and Communication Course, Ground Radio Course, Basic Weapons Mechanic Course, and Aircraft Engine Mechanic Course in New Zealand, which made him a remarkable Weapons Mechanic Technician. One of his shared innovations in PAF was the repair of ten (10) pieces of intervalometer which is known as an essential part in any rocket launchers activity. As the lead, he carefully studied the overhaul process of the intervalometer and given a budget of PhP 13,465.00, he was able to restore the said part which led the PAF save PhP 1.5M.

TSgt Avellana always exceeds on what is expected of him, with his dedication and hard labor he was also able tocomplete the repair of three (3) optical sightsof MD520-MG Aircraft which saved the PAF PhP400, 000.00. TSgt Avellana is a recipient of many awards, including the PAF Enlisted Personnel of the Year & INSTEP Awardee for Professionalism, given to those personnel who religiously show commitment in improving the current state of PAF in terms of existing equipment and weaponry innovation.

Now on its 17th year, the TOPS Search has become the highest and most sought after civilian award given to military personnel. The Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) honors the valor, gallantry, and self-sacrifice demonstrated by the men and women of the AFP in partnership with the RCMM.

All previous TOPS awardees are now members of the TOPS alumni organization called TOPSOLDIERS (The Organization of Philippine Soldiers with Outstanding Leadership, Dedication, Integrity, Excellence, and Responsibility to Society) conducting pay-it-forward projects in communities. (Source: Metrobank FB)

AFP joins the nation in celebrating our Independence Day

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines will be joining the nation as we celebrate the 118th anniversary of our freedom on June 12, this coming Sunday.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Kalayaan 2016: Pagkakaisa, Pagaambagan, at Pagsulong.”

The public will be able to witness the traditional civic military parade at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park on Sunday, which will also be attended by outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.

The AFP Civil Relations Service will be performing at the Open Air Auditorium in Luneta on June 11 for the “Musikalayaan Concert.”

Aside from the AFP Major Services Combo Bands, the bands of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology will also be performing on the said concert.

The AFP Static and Kinetic Display will be performing in Lapu-Lapu area of the Luneta Park tomorrow from 8am to 5pm on June 12.

“The participation of the AFP in the celebration of the Philippine Declaration of Independence is to honor the heroes who fought for our country and the people. This also serves as a renewal of the commitment of the Filipino soldiers, as a testimony of their unwavering perseverance in fulfilling its mandate to serve and protect people, uphold our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to remain as this nation’s catalyst for peace and development.” [with DZRH Florante Rosales | Photos by SSg Calagui/IDG]

Retiring CRSAFP senior NCOs honored today!

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BGen Rhoderick Parayno, CRSAFP commander personally expressed his appreciation to the honorees for supporting the Armed Forces throughout their term during the retirement ceremonies for retiring senior Non-Commissioned Officers held at the Civil Relations Service, Multi-purpose Hall in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In his speech, MSg Rosendo Z Pamati-an thanked the people he have met along the way. He is grateful for the experiences while wearing the Army uniform, including this one, today.

“What am I bringing with me as I leave active duty? The friends, the relationships, the mementos, and the memories. I am also leaving with some more wisdom in my soul, a few less defenses around my heart, a wonderful family, and a future full of life.” he added.

The heart, the soul and the life’s blood of every military formation is its people. The success of this great Alliance—an Alliance for good—rests squarely on the shoulders of its people… and that success depends heavily on the NCOs who serve as trainers, mentors and most importantly leaders.

Today, the CRS is in grateful recognition of the members who are retiring from a career of long, faithful, and honorable service. Each retirees receives a Command Plaque and a Certificate of Commendation.

Their wives were given a Certificate of Appreciation for their unselfish, faithful and devoted support to their husbands lasting contribution and dedicated service tot he Armed Forces of the Philippines and to our nation.

Honorees and their wives join for a photo opportunity with the CRSAFP commander BGen Parayno and Mrs Parayno. – Cpl Lapidez/IDG
Awarding of Command Plaque to Sgt Rebua PN(M) – Cpl Lapidez/IDG
Awarding of Command Plaque to BM3 Araos PN – Cpl Lapidez/IDG
Awarding of Command Plaque to SSg Estrada PAF – Cpl Lapidez/IDG
Awarding of Command Plaque to MSg Pamati-an PA – Cpl Lapidez/IDG
Awarding of Command Plaque to MSg Dayon PA -Cpl Lapidez/IDG

2,000 bikers pedal for a ‘fear-free’ elections

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IMG_4240-CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, Lucena City – Around 2,000 bikers participated in a synchronized pre-election biking activity in selected cities and municipalities in Regions lV-A, lV-B and V at 6 a.m. today, May 3, 2016. The activity was initiated by the AFP Southern Luzon Command and was aimed to send a message of  commitment of the men and women in the uniformed services together with COMELEC, partner agencies and other NGOs for a Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) 2016.

The activity, dubbed as “Bike for SAFE 2016” was participated by SOLCOM and subordinate units, PNP, COMELEC, PPRCV, DepEd, DILG, NGOs, other stakeholders. It was simulteneously conducted in Infanta, Quezon; Binangonan and Tanay of Rizal; Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro; Lucena City and Calauag of Quezon; Labo and Daet of Camarines Norte; Legazpi City, Albay ; Virac, Catanduanes and Sorsogon City, Sorsogon.

In Lucena City, AFP Southern Luzon Command Chief Lieutenant General Ricardo R. Visaya with PNP Acting Quezon Provincial Police Director PSSupt Eugene Paguirigan, COMELEC Quezon Acting Provincial Elections Supervisor Atty Dioscoro Pajutan, COMELEC Lucena City Election Officer Atty Ana Mei Barbacena, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Celedonio B. Balderas, Jr. and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting Coordinator Atty Alwin P. Racelis graced the event with messages of hope, unity, peace, fairness for the upcoming May 9 elections.

Only those directly involved for the conduct of SAFE and bike enthusiasts participated in the 35 km route which passed from Camp Nakar, Lucena City – Tayabas City – Pagbilao – Perez Park, Lucena City.

The AFP SOLCOM strictly abides to the non-partisan posture of the organization as well as on every member in its ranks. By doing so, we help maintain the sanctity of the ballots, votes and the entire election process.

“We just want to show the people that we are ready for the elections. We just want it to be peaceful,” said AFP Southern Luzon Command Chief Lieutenant General Ricardo R. Visaya.

For COMELEC Lucena City Election Officer Atty Ana Mei Barbacena, SOLCOM’s Bike for SAFE is one simple gesture of support and commitment that has a great effect on establishing a ‘Fear-Free’ election atmosphere in the communities. She said that the series of initiatives for SAFE would likely contribute to a high voters’ turnout. (SOLCOM-PIO)


Bayani Challenge 2016: Barangay Walang Iwanan

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Since 2006, millions of volunteers have heeded the call for massive displays of bayanihan on-ground during the Bayani Challenge, the largest volunteer event in the country which continue to inspire, plant hope and end poverty.

Bayani Challenge is a yearly summer activity where Filipinos where encouraged to build communities and foster relationships through planting trees, building homes, repairing schools, health missions, paraisong pambata activities, youth conferences, sports programs, clean-up drives and many more.

Through disasters and armed conflict, together we have rebuilt homes and multi-purpose halls, cared for the environment, empowered communities and the youth, and inspired love for country. Last April 20-24, 2016 almost 800 volunteers composed of foreigners, young professionals , students and soldiers, gathered for another Bayani Challenge in three municipalities of Nueva Ecija namely Llanera, Jaen and Cabaio.

The first three days, the activities were more on house builds and storytelling. HOPE Conference 2016 culminated on Saturday and Sunday, a simultaneous workshop that covers, photo journalism, broadcasting, Public Speaking, Music and Story Telling conducted by different groups like HOPE Inc and CNN Philippines. The 5 day event was supported by Microsoft, DirectLife, Civil Relations Service Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Youth Congress 2013 and HOPE Inc and other partner organizations. [IDG/Photos by Cpl Concepcion]


Third Manila rescue march challenge

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The third Rescue March (Mass Assembly for Rescue and Care for Humanity) Challenge was held last Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Rescue Squads in Metro Manila (national, local government units, volunteer and corporations) was held in four quadrants of Oplan Yakal (West to South), from Bonifacio Shrine, Manila  City to Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.

Rescue squads (7man-squad) who participated were dressed in their respective rescue uniforms with PPEs (personal protective equipment), rigged with backpacks and other life-saving gadgets.

This is a simulation response-exercise to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake scenario in Metro Manila that assumes breakdown of basic infrastructure in which rescuers have to travel on foot with their rescue equipment. This is not a competition but rather a collective assessment of the response capability (individual rescuer physical endurance/unit capability) of each rescue unit and the inter-operability of different rescue organizations in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The 3rd RESCUE MARCH CHALLENGE is organized by ORANGE HELMETS, a humanitarian and emergency response operator (HERO) force multiplier group supported by MMDA, OCD-NCR, and the Emergency Response Integration Center (ERIC). [AW2C Naga/IDG]