Beng expresses gratitude as elite AFP forces leave Zambo

October 2, 2013

Mayor Beng Climaco has expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the Joint Special Operations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that was directly involved in fierce ground, air and sea assaults on the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters who occupied six barangays of the city for the past 23 days of September.

“We in Zamboanga City desire for peace, and as you prepare to go back to where you came from, we want to show to you our deepest gratitude, especially to those who risked their lives in defending the rights of the people, especially the children,” Mayor Climaco said of the elite military forces during the send-off ceremony at the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) yesterday morning.

Climaco said the most painful experience for her as mayor during the 23-day crisis was the life of a six-year-old girl who was held hostage and shot on the forehead by the rebels.

“Her life and the lives of the soldiers and civilians killed in the firefights we now entrust to God Almighty. On behalf of the people of Zamboanga, I thank you and I hope when you come back to the city we will be able to give you a warm welcome,” the lady chief executive said.

For his part, WesMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo congratulated the JSOG forces for a job well done in Zamboanga, saying they have successfully defended and liberated the city from the enemies even as the operations resulted in severs casualties on government forces.

“We are proud of you and we sincerely thank you for your critical contributions to the operations in Zamboanga. They (enemies) never thought that we have such a force that is not only professional but equipped and suitable for this type of operational setting that no one ever thought of,” Gen. Ardo said.

“Notwithstanding the operations of war,” he said, “the bullets from the adversaries, the wounds inflicted by the enemies, the JSOG forces should bold display of military professionalism during the different encounters.”

Gold Cross Medals were awarded to the elite troopers from the different Light Reaction Units composing the JSOG for their gallantry actions that resulted in the deaths, surrenders and arrested of hundred of MNLF attackers since their deployment on the second week of the crisis.

Maj. Franco Rafael Alano, spokesman of WesMinCom, said the elite military forces had already accomplished their mission in Zamboanga, therefore they are no longer needed here.

“The JSOG forces have to be sent back to barracks for re-training. We do not need them anymore for the clearing operations because their expertise is purely direct assaults on the enemies,” Maj. Alano said, adding that the WesMinCom troops and the local police are capable enough to carry out the ongoing clearing operations in the affected barangays and nearby areas.- (Vic Larato)

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