From their ‘greatest escape’, Filipino peacekeepers honored with greatest welcome | Global News

From their ‘greatest escape’, Filipino peacekeepers honored with greatest welcome

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 06:57 PM October 01, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Yellow confetti rained and wives hugged their husbands as the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense welcomed back the 7th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights to the general headquarters of the Philippine Military Wednesday afternoon.

After paying a visit to President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang earlier in the day, the 344-strong contingent received their shower of praise from their families and their brothers-in-arms in Camp Aguinaldo.


General Gregorio Pio Catapang, AFP Chief of Staff, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri, Commanding General Philippine Army, presided over the celebration as hundreds of family members of the soldiers watched with anticipation as flower garlands were put around the necks of the peacekeepers.


“We are thankful for General Catapang who gave us praise and awards, and I am so happy that we are all safe here,” Colonel Ezra Enriquez, 7th PCGH Commander, said.

Enriquez was the one who ordered the Filipino troops in Position 68 to stand their ground and conduct the “greatest escape” after Syrian rebels attacked their position.

“In behalf of the 7th PCGH, we are honored of the awards that the AFP has given us,” Enriquez said.

It was also reported that Enriquez defied the orders of Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, who wanted the Filipino Peacekeepers to drop their arms for the safe release of the captured Fijian Peacekeepers from the Syrian rebels.

“I stand by my decision…we are sure of what we are doing, tactically, it was a good decision,” Enriquez said.

Captain Ricardo Nolasco, Staff Sargeant Arnold Liwanag and Corporal Jober Babaran from the Rapid Reaction Group, 2nd Company, 7th PCGH received Bronze Cross Medals from the AFP.


Catapang and Colonel Roberto Ancan, AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center Commander, facilitated the awarding ceremony.

Also, 174 officers and enlisted men received Military Merit Medals for their accomplishments during the crisis.

Filipino blood, Filipino pride

Beaming with joy, and a flower garland around his neck, Captain Nilo Ramones said he wanted to go out and enjoy his free time with his friends and family after his most tumultuous time in his 11 years of service.

“I want to relax, and [spend] some quality time with my family,” the 31-year-old Army Captain said.

Ramones was the commander of the Philippine troops in Position 68 who held their ground against the Syrian rebels.

Ramones said “surrendering our guns is not part of our Filipino blood”. “That’s the symbol of our honor, those guns are our ‘wives’ there.”

He added that after their “greatest escape”, he was “so happy that we were alive that when we crossed to the Israeli side, I shouted ‘hey we’re alive!'”



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TAGS: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Filipino peacekeepers, Golan Heights, Greatest Escape, peacekeepers

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