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Strong PH-US bond highlighted by Congressional gold medal awards

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Carlito Galvez Jr., Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND), expressed his gratitude to the US government for recognizing the Filipino World War II soldiers last Tuesday during the 22nd United States Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) Awarding Ceremony.

The celebration took place in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City and served as a symbol of the shared history and enduring relationship between the Philippines and the US.

“The DND wishes to convey its sincere appreciation to the US government for its recognition of our war veterans. According to a statement released by Galvez on Wednesday night, they are “living emblems of the common history and deep tie between our people.”

Additionally, he said that Filipino World War II veterans should receive the highest honors for their valor and service.

“Our veterans truly embody the definition of heroes. They should be honored to the utmost degree for their service in several positions and for fighting side by side with our American heroes during World War II, according to Galvez.

38 Filipino World War II veterans in total received awards at the ceremony.

15 of the winners earned their medals posthumously, while 23 received their awards personally. Four of the recipients were likewise 100 years old.

The DND head praised the fact that several recipients of the CGM, such as Private Arturo F. Coronel of the Mariano Ponce’s Regiment, who is now 100 years old, even rose up and walked to accept it despite their late age.

Galvez also commended the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), headed by Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu, for its excellent job and urged the organization to keep safeguarding and advancing the welfare of our veterans.

The PVAO has held 22 awarding ceremonies since 2018, including a few outsides of Metro Manila.

The US CGM awards have been given out to a total of 628 servicemen.

He congratulated everyone on the successful and touching appreciation event that took place today (Jan. 31).

“I also want to express my gratitude to the diligent PVAO team for consistently providing our veterans and their beneficiaries with the benefits, healthcare aid, and scholarships they are due. Our country will never forget the lessons from our history thanks to your dedication to your duties, he continued.

Galvez, too, acknowledged the legacy of veterans, many of whose offspring and grandchildren choose to pay it forward by choosing to work in government.

“I have no doubt that our veterans sparked their interest in joining the government so they may serve our citizens and towns around the nation. Looking back, I can say that the accounts of the selfless devotion and sacrifices of our ancestors motivated me and ultimately affected my choice to enlist in the Philippine military and later contribute to the advancement of the all-encompassing Philippine peace process,” he continued.

Mapagu stressed the need of presenting the honors to as many of the nation’s living soldiers as is practical.

The PVAO administrator stated, “We, at the PVAO, will continue to work hard to make this happen along with our partners in the Filipino veteran’s community, other veterans organizations, and local government units.

According to Mapagu, they have long battled for the proper acknowledgment of Filipino veterans. He continued by saying that they keep doing it since it is the least they can do to honor these heroes.

Delfin N. Lorenzana, a former DND secretary, and the organizers of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, who started the law establishing the US CGM awards for Filipino veterans, were also acknowledged by Galvez.

Its accomplishments demonstrate the power of the Filipino-American Veterans’ Community coming together for a good cause, he continued.

Heather Variava, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in the Philippines, also honored Filipino veterans.

She remarked, “The Congressional Gold Medal ceremony transports us back in time to recall the accomplishments of our warriors and how they triumphed over the hardships of war.”

“Your tales are authentic examples of courage and enduring patriotism. Additionally, they serve as an enduring symbol of the bonds that unite our nations.

Galvez pointed out that the CGM award ceremony is timely given the coming in the Philippines of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. He claimed that their upcoming bilateral encounter is evidence of the solid and long-lasting relations that exist between the two countries.

Galvez stated, “I look forward to meeting with Secretary Austin and exploring how our respective defense departments can further improve our relationship as a fellow graduate of the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning in Georgia.

He continued, “The United States has historically been our nation’s partner in times of need, particularly in delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief to Filipinos after tragedies.

He is optimistic that the conference would provide the two nations with more opportunities to explore more robust and strategic combined defense capabilities.

Through exercises like the Balikatan, we intend to increase our training and collaborative efforts with our allies, Galvez stated.

He further stated that the DND intended to maintain the strong alliance it has with its American colleagues.

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