UN cites Filipino peacekeepersBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The latest batch of Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights received medals from the United Nations (UN) in recognition of their service to peace and security in the troubled Middle East region.
The peacekeepers—the fifth contingent —received their medals Thursday, barely three months after being deployed under the UN Disengagement Observer Force (Undof).
“The awarding of medals to contingents in the Golan Heights is symbolic and a token of appreciation given by the UN to contingents for their contribution to the maintenance of peace and security in the region,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
The Philippine contingent forms part of the UN peacekeeping force composed of troops from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India and Japan.
These troops have been tasked by the UN Security Council with maintaining the ceasefire and supervising the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the so-called areas of separation and limitation between the two parties.
Lt. Col. Ramon Estella, commanding officer of the Philippine battalion, led his troops during the medal parade.
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Generoso Calonge and Maj. Gen. Natalio Ecarma III, head of mission and Undof force commander, were special guests.
The Philippine contingent was deployed in February 2012 and will finish its tour of duty in August 2012.
The DFA said the deployment of Philippine troops to the Golan Heights, especially amid the so-called Arab Spring, was a challenge and a test to their courage and endurance.
Since the 1950s, the Philippines has sent peacekeepers to Korea, Congo, Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Kashmir, Kosovo, Nepal, Sudan and Timor Leste.