' Photo from the Malacau00f1ang Photo Bureau
MANILA, Philippines – They are the everyday, often unsung heroes of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who do the dirty work in the field, responding to the various crises that hit the Philippines in 2013 and early this year.
On Monday, April 1, 38 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – police officers and one non-uniformed staff were recognized for their work during the biggest calamities of 2013, as well as the PNP's anti-insurgency, anti-terrorism, and anti-illegal drugs efforts.
During the PNP's Araw ng Parangal sa Kapulisan, 5 were awarded the Medalya ng Pambihirang Paglilingkod (PNP Special Service Medal); 5, the Medalya ng Katapangan (PNP Bravery Medal); 20, the Medalya ng Kadakilaan (PNP Heroism Medal); 3, the Medalya ng Kagalingan (PNP Medal of Merit); 1, the Medalya ng Katangi-tanging Asal (PNP Outstanding Conduct Medal); 1, the Medalya ng Kabayanihan (PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal); and 3, the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting (PNP Wounded Personnel Medal).
In a speech, Chief PNP Director General Alan Purisima said that in some occasions, police officers themselves became victims. "Marami ang nasugatan, marami ang nawalan ng tahanan, at ang ilan sa kanila ay nagbuwis ng buhay. Ang lahat ng ito ay nangyari habang sila ay nagsisilbi sa ating bayan," he said. (A lot of you were wounded, lost your homes, risked your lives while in service.)
Among the awardees were PNP members from Leyte and Samar who rose to the occasion during Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The sole non-uniformed personnel awardee, Noli Cua dela Cruz, rescued 10 families from the storm surges in Barangay 89 of Tacloban City. Dela Cruz and his families knotted together their clothes, using them to rope in their neighbors into the safety of his brother's house.
Another Tacloban police officer, Police Inspector Marjorie Lubo Manuta, was awarded the PNP Merit Award for being one of only 20 police officers to report to work after Yolanda. Manuta had to walk 5 to 6 kilometers along a devastated Tacloban to "place the city police office functional." She eventually helped the local police's efforts in reporting missing persons and checking up on key personalities in her area.
"This once more shows that the PNP is never bereft of heroes who will gallantly serve and protect our countrymen against all odds, even at the risk of their own lives," Purisima added.
Speaking as the guest of honor, President Benigno Aquino III promised improvements in the state of the PNP's equipment and facilities. Aquino, referring to the poor condition of the Philippine National Police Academy said: "At siguro naman hindi n'yo naman ako masisisi kung sasabihin kong, 'Dapat ba ninyong maging pakiramdam yagit?' Palagay ko hindi na ho yata. Pagdating sa pistols, tinatapos na lang 'yong ballistics examination – one-to-one ratio," he said.
(You can't blame me if I say: Is it right for you to feel pitiful? I don't think so. When it comes to pistols, as soon as the ballistics examination is done, there will be a one-to-one ratio for police officers and the pistols available.)
Aquino encouraged the police to continue doing their job well – whether it be in responding to a natural calamity, terrorists, or insurgents. "97 million Filipinos depend on you. Let us not make them feel this is a thought that had no basis in fact. Let us make them believe every day that their trust in all of us was correctly placed," he said.
The ceremony, however, was not without controversy.
One name was conspicuously missing in the list – former Task Force Tugis head Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, who has since been reassigned to the Cebu Provincial Office. Aquino, during his speech, made a thinly-veiled referenced to Capa, criticizing him for his "disservice" to the PNP.
Capa was relieved and reassigned less than a week after successfully arresting Delfin Lee, among the country's most wanted fugitives. The reassignment sparked controversy in the PNP. Capa accused Purisima of lying to the public about his "promotion," while the PNP's top brass argued that the former Task Force head was not ripe for a promotion to a general rank.
But PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac explained the awards are meant primarily for the "front liners," and not team heads.
An exception to that "rule," however, were at least 4 high-ranking police officers, two of whom hold key positions based in Camp Crame.
Police Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr. was awarded the Medalya ng Pambihirang Paglilingkod (PNP Special Service Medal) for leading the "PNP contingent to Tacloban and Cebu City who personally supervised PNP personnel in PRO 8 in the restoration of peace and order."
Police Director Espina Valmoria, was also awarded the PNP Special Service Medal for his work as ground commander of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) troops during the Zamboanga siege. Valmoria used to be the Director of the PNP SAF.
Rojas is now the PNP's second in command as the Deputy Chief for Administration, while Valmoria is the acting chief of the National Capital Regional Police Office.
The rest of the awardees are:
Special Action Force Awardees
Police Regional Office 9 Awardees
Police Regional Office 8
ARREST OF WANTED PERSON
Task Force Tugis Awardees
In an interview with PTV, Sindac explained the awards could pave the way for the promotion of the awardees. – Rappler.com