DFA cites 22 hero peacekeepers

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario. AP FILE PHOTO

The Department of Foreign Affairs paid tribute to the country’s “fallen heroes”—22 military and police personnel who died in the line of duty as members of United Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide—on Tuesday on the occasion of International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said 22 Filipino military, police and civilian personnel had perished over the years while helping the UN maintain the peace in conflict areas from as near as Cambodia and East Timor to as far as the Sudan and Haiti.

“Today, we remember our 22 fallen heroes, most especially Joseph Ubaldo and Charles Uy of the UN missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively, who were among the 112 men and women peacekeepers who died in the line of duty last year as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease,” Del Rosario said.

The foreign secretary said the commemoration was not only about those who died in the line of duty but also those who continued to serve the cause of peace—thousands of others from the 116 UN member-states, including the Philippines.

“We also pay tribute to the more than 120,000 peacekeepers currently serving in 17 UN mission areas who work selflessly with great courage and under the most difficult of conditions to help lay the foundations for peace and security in conflict areas of the globe,” he said.

For its part, the Philippine military on Thursday honored more than 600 Filipino peacekeepers deployed around the globe in celebration of International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines praised the peacekeepers for their “unwavering dedication and courage” in serving overseas.

“The UN Peacekeepers Day marks a very significant event as the AFP pays homage to the efforts exerted by our peacekeepers who continue to propagate peace in foreign lands,” said General Jessie Dellosa, the AFP chief of staff.

“Let this remind us of our commitment to the United Nations as our peace initiatives are not only limited to the Philippines but to the rest of the world,” Dellosa said.

The AFP said it had 638  personnel deployed to nine UN peacekeeping sites around the world.

These include three contingents in Liberia, Haiti and the Golan Heights, and 35 military observers, staff and other postings in seven countries.

Since 2003, the military has deployed company-size units of clerks, soldiers and equipment in support of the UN mandate in Liberia.

In 2004, the Philippines sent out its first peacekeepers in response to a request by the UN for personnel, equipment and services for the stabilization mission in Haiti. Jerry E. Esplanada and DJ Yap

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