Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Headquarters, Jolo, Sulu
June 4, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte acknowledged the valor and gallantry in action of the Joint Task Force-Sulu (JTF-Sulu) as he conferred the Gold Cross Medal to its enlisted personnel in an awarding ceremony at the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu.

“I decided the other night to come here and visit you, not only to give you my snappy salute, but also give medals to my soldiers for showing exemplary conduct in times of stressful events.  Sumasaludo, humahanga ako sa sundalo kong Pilipino,” the Commander-in-Chief said in his opening remarks.

“I cannot now remember the many times that I’m here but masiguro ninyo that in your hours of need, nandito ako.  Maybe ‘di masyado ‘yang piyesta-piyesta and gaiety celebrations, but kung 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,” he added.

The awardees of the Gold Cross Medal played a pivotal role in several encounters against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as they killed and neutralized multiple members of the notorious terrorist group in armed engagements.  The soldiers were also able to recover high-powered firearms, rescue kidnap victims, and retrieve the bodies of the dead kidnap victims.

President Duterte stressed that it is his goal to achieve peace in the country during his term, and that the Filipino people are all connected by blood as Malays.

“Our duty tells us that we have to preserve the nation, and that we have to protect the people.  And to my brother, Moro, ganun din ho ang aking adhikain – that during my time we can have peace,” the President stated, citing that the religious feud between the Muslims and Christians traces back 400 years ago when Spanish colonialism began in the Philippines.

“We follow our own religion.  We pray our religion.  But we die for one nation,” he added.

Prior to delivering his speech, the Commander-in-Chief paid a visit to the wounded-in-action (WIA) soldiers and awarded them the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan, an award given to “seriously wounded or injured or suffered great loss of property,” as a direct result of their participation to the President’s campaign or advocacy.

Moreover, Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo of JTF-Sulu and Brigadier General Andres Centino were both promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in a ceremonial donning of ranks.