Philippine contingent to Liberia reunites with family

THE General Headquarters Canopy Area was filled with smiles, hugs and kisses when the awarding of United Nations Service Medals is over.

Finally, the 16th Philippine Contingent to Liberia is reunited with their family and the ceremony wasn’t just for protocol, it was a formal reunion of soldiers and their families after more than seven months of deployment.

Even the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt.Gen. Gregorio E. Macapagal hinted that the ceremony held last Friday, August 31, should not be void of joy when he congratulated the contingent.

“On behalf of the Chief of Staff General Jessie D Dellosa and the whole AFP, we congratulate and welcome you back home. You can all smile now,” Macapagal said.

“The medals awarded to you are for our recognition and appreciation of the sacrifices you made as representatives of our country to the UN peacekeeping force in Liberia. To uphold peace in one country is to uphold peace globally,” Macapagal added.

The 115-strong, all from the Philippine Air Force, 16th PCL was deployed last January to augment the UN peacekeeping force in Liberia. Composed by seven officers, one medical officer, and 107 enlisted personnel, the 16th PCL is responsible in providing administrative and security support to the peacekeeping force.

However, Acting Mission Commander Lt.Col. Emilio Bartolo said that the morale and welfare of the contingent is also a concern, especially having to deal with the other contingents of the peacekeeping force while far from their families.

“Aside from our clerical and security missions, we also accomplished different activities in support of the morale and welfare of the contingent,” Bartolo said.

“We experienced a lot of big challenges in the mission area. One of those is in dealing with different contingents from other 42 countries.  Finally we have concluded the mission and we are very proud that we successfully accomplished our mandated mission of providing security,” added.

Meanwhile, AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie D. Dellosa also congratulated the contingent for “representing the Philippines and promulgating the AFP’s culture of excellence and dedication in a foreign land.”

“It is never easy to be away from your family while being surrounded by unknown faces in an unknown territory. But you have dutifully accomplished your mission and for that, we appreciate and value your contributions and sacrifices in propagating worldwide peace,” Dellosa said.

The Philippine Contingent to Liberia is in accordance with the UN Resolution 1509 drafted in September 2003 that established the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

It is tasked to assist in the maintenance of law and order in the country following a ceasefire that ended the Second Liberian Civil War.

The awarding ceremony was attended by some star-rank and senior officers of the AFP including The Inspector General of the AFP MGen Ireneo Espino, Chief of Air Staff MGen Raul Gabriel Dimatatac, and several members of the Joint Staff.

The 16th PCL arrived in the country last July 30 and was replaced by the 17th PCL that left the country on July 28.

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