29 May 2010

019 ~ Honoring the GLOBAL KAWAL and the GLOBAL PULISYA


The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers recognizes the sacrifice offered by UN Blue Berets and UN Blue Helmets. Its observance in the Philippines was made official by Proclamation 1755, signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 16 April 2009.

This year, the celebration culminated in a modest but meaningful program put together by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of National Defense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Distinct tributes―from the offices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G Rómulo, and National Defense Secretary Norberto B Gonzales―were paid to the UN Blue Berets and UN Blue Helmets fielded by the the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The tributes spoke of the quality of work that Filipino and Filipina soldiers and civilian police officers rendered during their out-of-country tour of duty. These also reflected on how much the Philippines has contributed manpower and logistics, and on how consistently she labors, towards achieving objectives of UN peace support operations.

The Philippines is currently ranked the 24th most generous troop-contributing UN member-State, with almost a thousand soldiers and civilian police stationed as UN peacekeepers across the world.

In this year's rites, special recognition was given to Colonel Lope C Dagoy, Philippine Army, and his command, the AFP's Tenth Philippine Contingent to Haïti (10PCH).

It was the 10PCH that suffered the loss of three personnel to the killer quake that struck the mission area's capital last 12 January. The fallen soldiers―Sergeant Eustacio C Bermudez Jr, Philippine Army; Sergeant Janice D Arocena, Philippine Air Force; and Petty Officer Third Class Pearlie T Panangui, Philippine Navy―were pinned by rubble at their posts in the mission headquarters building. They suffered the same fate as their compatriot Mr Jerome Yap (mission administrative officer), Monsieur Hédi Annabi (the head of mission himself), and scores of UN peacekeepers from other nations.

Amid the grief, the Filipino soldiers―alongside comrades from the PNP―composed themselves quickly so they could administer medical treatment to the countless injured, and undertake round-the-clock search-and-rescue and -retrieval efforts in their sector of responsibility.

At the commemoration, after the outpouring of accolades, there were video presentations to show the two institutions' overseas deployment activities: the AFP with the combat and other-than-war campaigns beginning in 1950; the PNP with highlights of endeavors since 1992.

In its sixty years of service, the GLOBAL KAWAL―the Filipino soldier fighting for peace on foreign shores―has shone, or keeps shining, with heroism in the following UN mission areas:

The Korean Peninsula, 1950-55
The Congo, 1963
Iraq, 1991-2003
Cambodia, 1992-93
Timor-Leste, 1999 to present
Liberia, 2003 to present
Côte d'Ivoire, 2004 to present
Burundi, 2004-06
Haïti, 2004 to present
The Sudan (Southern), 2005 to present
Kashmir, 2009 to present
The Golan Heights, 2009 to present.

The GLOBAL KAWAL has played, or continues to play, significant roles in the UN ground forces, aviation wing, or naval unit―patrolling land, air, or water in communities troubled by bloody dissonance, and bringing aid to populations afflicted by natural calamity or man-made disaster. He or she also served as a non-UN pacification and humanitarianism element in Indonesia (1963), South Viêt Nam (1964-71), Aceh (2002-06), Iraq (2003-04), and Myanmar (2008).

Meanwhile, in its 18 years of service, the GLOBAL PULISYA―the Philippine civilian police contingent that helps restore order on foreign shores―has been taken on its mettle in the following UN mission areas:

Cambodia, 1992-93
Haïti, 1994 to present
Timor-Leste, 1999 to present
Kosovo, 1999-2009
Liberia, 2004 to present
Afghanistan, 2004 to present
The Sudan (Southern), 2005 to present
Côte d'Ivoire, 2005-07
Nepal, 2007-08
Georgia, 2007-09
Darfur, 2008 to present
Lebanon, 2008.

The contingent also served as a pacification and humanitarian component of the non-UN, multinational coalition in Iraq (2003-04).

Specific accomplishments in the areas of peace-restoration and peace-enforcement, peacekeeping and peace-building, for both the AFP and the PNP, are manifold. It would need a thick no-nonsense book for at least a good part of these accomplishments to be discussed.

For the moment, the urgency is to honor the generally unsung heroes whose display of gallantry continues to extend beyond their country's borders.

To the Filipino and Filipina UN Blue Berets and Blue Helmets who, for a greater peace and the common good, would die with boots on...without question, complaint, or condition: MABUHAY!! As the world out there says, you do your people proud.