Duterte honors PAF men, women during 70th anniv rites

CLARK, Pampanga — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday led the conferment of awards to outstanding individuals and units of the Philippine Air Force during the PAF’s 70th Anniversary held at the Haribon Hangar here.

The event was dubbed “Partnering for Change and Sustaining the Effort Towards a Jointly Engaged Transforming Force for Greater Peace and Security.”

The President presented the awards to units, officers, enlisted personnel and civilian personnel of PAF, who have rendered meritorious and exceptional achievements to the country and to the Filipino people. The said awards signify the commitment, dedication and competence of the men and women of Air Force.

The President was likewise presented with the certificate of complete delivery of the FA-PH aircraft.

During his short speech, Duterte thanked the Korean Aerospace Agency through Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Jae-Shin Kim for the complete delivery of a high-speed SF 260 aircraft; a fly-by of nine T41 and 12 SF 260 aircraft forming the figure “70”; and capability parade of ground equipment used for combat and disaster response.

The President also saluted the men and women of PAF and PNP.

President Duterte also lauded PAF for its territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise as well as its crucial role in humanitarian assistance and disaster response. He also honored members of the AFP and PNP who are currently engaged in battle in Marawi City.

“I am confident that the Philippine Air Force will play a vital role in rebuilding Marawi City and uplifting the morale of residents therein,” Duterte added.

The President said his administration will continue the modernization of the Philippine Air Force and pledged to procure additional attack and combat vehicles and air assets.

He furthered that PAF plays a crucial role in the government’s effort to retake Marawi City from the ISIS-inspired terrorists. He said that 40 of the country’s air assets and more than 400 officers and personnel have been deployed in the city, most of whom are involved in ground operations.

Duterte also lauded the Philippine Air Force for having joined in 1,000 insurgency and law enforcement operations in the country. He also praised the Philippine Air Force for performing well their duty in battling the efforts of ISIS to take Marawi City, with more than 400 PAF officers and personnel offering their services in the said city.

“I call upon the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to give the highest degree of professionalism and service with the current challenges of terrorism and security,” he stressed.

“I am confident as the campaign to liberate Marawi City is being wrapped up, Philippine Air Force will play an active role in rebuilding the city and the spirit of the embattled soldiers and civilians,” the President ended.

In his anniversary message, PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina said that since their foundation seven decades ago, PAF has become an instrument of national policy and an expression of national will.

Fallorina said they did not take a back seat in the transformation of PAF. This is manifested in their return to the supersonic age with the complete delivery of FA-50PH aircraft which greatly bolstered PAF’s airstrike capability.

During the ceremony, President Duterte, assisted by Fallorina, conferred several awards the PAF Gold Cross Medal Award to Lt. Col. Rolando Peña and to Maj. Melkie Tadeo; Dr. Dorothy Mangcoy (PAF Model Employee of the Year Award); A2C Sairyl Allen Pagayon (PAF Airman of the Year Award); TSG. Wilson Babadilla (PAF NCO of the Year Award); LTC Thomas Ryan Seguin (PAF Officer of the Year Award); CG and PAF’s was also given an Award for Flight Safety to the 220th Airlift Wing and 250th Presidential Airlift Wing; Fernando Air Base also awarded as PAF Model Base Award; PAF Ready Reserve Wing Category Award to the 2nd Air Force Wing Reserve; Wing Non-Flying Category Award to the 355th Aviation Engineer Wing ; Wing Flying Category Award to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing; and Command Category Award to the 3rd Air Division.