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Guest Page: Filipino U.N. Peacekeepers

UN commends Filipino peacemakers in Liberia

First Posted 08:27:00 12/10/2009

MANILA, Philippines—The United Nations on Tuesday awarded medals to Filipino military peacekeepers serving in Liberia, commending them for executing their duties with “dignity and professionalism and for doing so always with a smile.”

In its report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said that 135 members of the 12th Philippine Contingent serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (Unmil) were presented with UN peacekeeping medals by UN envoy Ellen Margrethe Lųj in ceremonies in the capital, Monrovia.

In her speech, Lųj, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of Unmil, expressed her appreciation to the Filipino peacekeepers led by Lieutenant Colonel Vicente Gregorio Tomas for their hard work and contributions to peace in Liberia.

Lųj also applauded the security and defense platoons responsible for area, point, and security patrols at Unmil headquarters for carrying out their tasks with discipline and rigor.

Referring to the community outreach activities of the members of the 12th Philippine Contingent, the UN envoy quoted a Philippine proverb, which says “It is easy to be human, but it is hard to be humane.”

Lųj thanked the Filipino peacekeepers for the cleanup drive of the Sun Beach area near Camp Abuja in Monrovia. She also noted their plans to offer humanitarian assistance to orphanages in collaboration with religious leaders in Monrovia over the Christmas holidays.

The Philippines has a total of 166 personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police serving in Unmil. Of this number, 135 are attached to the Force Headquarters Security Unit responsible for securing Unmil Headquarters; two are assigned as Unmil staff officers; and 26 are UN police officers.

In addition to Liberia, the Philippines also has peacekeepers supporting UN operations in Afghanistan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, the Golan Heights, Haiti, Kashmir, Sudan, and Timor Leste.


UN to re-probe Filipino officer’s death

By Cynthia Balana
First Posted 15:58:00 09/19/2009MANILA, Philippines—The United Nations has finally granted the request of the Philippines to reopen the investigation into the case of a Philippine Army officer who died of cerebral malaria while serving as a military observer in Sudan two years ago.

In its report to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday, the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York said the UN agreed to take a second look into the case of the late Lieutenant Colonel Renerio Batalla, one of 11 Filipino officers serving with the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

Batalla, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, died while being transported by helicopter to a UN hospital in the southern district of Rembek on October 24, 2007. His death came two weeks before he was to end his one-year tour of duty in Sudan.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. requested a reinvestigation when he met with UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy in New York last week.

A UN Board of Inquiry investigation report released seven months after Battalla's death recommended a reprimand for a UN doctor for his failure to extend prompt and proper medical attention to the ailing Filipino officer.

“A review will go a long way in assuaging whatever doubts or apprehensions that have come about as a result of the tragic death of one of our own,” the defense chief was reported as having told the UN official.

Ambassaador Hilario Davide Jr., Philippine permanent representative to the UN in New York, said that Le Roy acceded to Teodoro’s request as he noted the importance the Philippine government had placed on the case.

He also acknowledged the right of the Philippines, as a troop contributing country, to request for such a review.

The Philippine mission was formally informed by the UN that it could not act on Manila’s demand to remove the doctor and bar him from serving in other peacekeeping missions as there was no evidence of gross negligence on his part and that there was no basis for disciplinary action based on existing UN rules and regulations.

But during his visit, Teodoro insisted that reopening the investigation could unearth evidence or information which may have been overlooked when the recommendation to reprimand the doctor was made.

Teodoro also suggested the possibility of devising mechanisms to ensure that cases are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, especially the families of deceased peacekeepers.

Davide said he welcomed this positive development on the Batalla case as this would allow the Philippine government and the family of the late officer to finally find closure.

“We believe this review will validate the Philippine position that there were serious lapses in how Colonel Batalla’s case was handled,” Davide said. “We hope that important lessons will be learned from this tragedy so that none of us would have to go through it again.”

Davide said the Philippines had been consistent in calling the attention of the United Nations to the Batalla case, especially in its interventions in the General Assembly and in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations since 2007.

Early this year, the Non-Aligned Movement endorsed a Philippine proposal to ensure that medical personnel assigned in mission areas are qualified to provide immediate and proper medical attention to peacekeepers and to hold them accountable if they fail to do so.

The Philippine proposal, which also expressed grave concern over the loss of human lives as a result of the negligence and incompetence of medical staff in the field, was later incorporated into the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations during its 2009 Substantive Session.

The Philippines has maintained a presence in Sudan since 2005 when it was invited by the United Nations to contribute military and police personnel to help supervise a peace agreement between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

In addition to military observers, the Philippines has 40 police officers serving in the Sudan mission, one of two UN peacekeeping operations in that country.

The Philippines also has 89 police officers serving with the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur.



P hilippines to send 336 troops to Golan Heights 

August 18, 2009


The Philippines is deploying 336 troops to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in strife-torn Golan Heights in Syria, the country's biggest overseas deployment in almost a decade.


In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, Hilario Davide, Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN, said the composite battalion of Filipino peacekeepers will be deployed in September to serve in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights.


"The Golan Heights is not only going to be the biggest peacekeeping operation that the Philippines will be taking part in, it would also be the most challenging," Davide said. The Philippines last sent a huge number of peacekeepers to UN operations in Timor Leste in 2000.


The Philippine contingent will replace a battalion of peacekeepers from Poland and will join more than 1,000 peacekeepers from Austria, Canada, Croatia, Japan, India and Poland that are presently stationed across the so-called area of separation--a hilly 80-kilometer stretch in the Golan Heights that has been under UN supervision since 1974.


Davide said the Philippine troops will conduct static, mobile and night operations out of Camp Ziouani and from the six permanent positions and five observation posts along the Line of Separation that are presently manned by Polish peacekeepers.


"The Golan Heights brings our peacekeepers to the frontlines. While no major incident has taken place in the UNDOF area of operation, hostilities could break out any time," he said.


UNDOF was an offshoot of the 1973 Six Day War or the Arab-Israeli War and was established by Security Council Resolution 350 of May 31, 1974 to maintain the ceasefire and supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and the so-called Areas of Separation and Limitation as provided in the Agreement on Disengagement between the two parties.


Davide said Filipino troops also face risks from landmines and unexploded ordnance along the UN-supervised Area of Separation that have separated Israeli and Syrian forces for the past 35 years.


"The Golan Heights poses a significant challenge to the Philippines since it is different from the other peacekeeping missions that the country is taking part in such as those in Liberia and Haiti where Filipino peacekeepers are not in the frontlines but are tasked to secure the UN headquarters in Monrovia and Port-au-Prince," Davide said.


Increased civilian presence along the Syrian side resulting from ongoing construction activities is also a cause for concern, he said.


The Philippines presently ranks No. 29 in the UN list of top troop contributing countries with a total of 611 military and police personnel deployed in Afghanistan, Cote d' Ivoire, Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and Timor Leste as of July 2009. It is also the third largest contributor from Southeast Asia next to Indonesia and Malaysia.


Source: Xinhua



38 Filipino soldiers sent to Haiti, Liberia



THIRTY-EIGHT Filipino soldiers were recently deployed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to Haiti and Liberia as part of the peace-keeping contingent of the United Nations in the said countries.

In a send off ceremony at Clark Airbase, the 38 soldiers from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) were bade goodbye by no less than AFP chief of staff General Victor Ibrado.

PAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerardo Zamudio Jr. said 21 of their soldiers will be deployed to Haiti to be headed by Major Andres Sunio Jr. Seventeen others will be deployed to Liberia and will be headed by Major Wenceslao Romero Jr.

As signatory to the UN Charter, the Philippines has an obligation to ensure international peace and stability.

The Philippines started sending troops to Liberia in 2003 and Haiti on 2004. (BOT/Wwith Peng Alińo)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper




UN awards medals to 165 Pinoy peacekeepers

By Pia Lee-Brago Updated November 19, 2008 12:00 AM

The United Nations awarded medals to 165 Filipino members of the peacekeeping force under the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in recognition of their contribution to the recovery and stabilization efforts of the African country.

The Philippine Mission to the United Nations reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that members of the 10th Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent under Col. Danilo Pamonag received UN medals from Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Rule of Law, during ceremonies in Monrovia last Monday.

The awarding ceremony was also attended by UNMIL Force Commander, Lt. Gen. ATM Zahirul Alam; Sector Commanders Brig. Gen. Ezekiel Olu-Olofinmuagan and Brig. Gen. Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar; and other senior military and civilian officials.

In her speech, Mensa-Bonsu commended the Filipino peacekeepers for their significant contributions to Liberia’s recovery efforts and urged them to uphold their duty to care for the Liberian people.

“You have been instrumental in improving security systems within the UNMIL compounds and in formulating standard operating procedures to ensure the highest quality of security,” Mensa-Bonsu said, adding, “I salute your country, which you represent with utmost credit.”

The deputy UN envoy also commended Pamonag for his excellent leadership.

In his speech, Pamonag described the Filipino peacekeepers as “ever-smiling, silent professionals, who tirelessly work on the sidelines to get things done.”

He said the UNMIL experience has taught the members of the Philippine contingent the true meaning of peacekeeping.

“Making friends, good attitude and good behavior are more powerful instruments than the sword,” Pamanog said.

The Philippine contingent was first deployed to Monrovia in 2003 to serve as the Force Headquarters Support Unit, which is in charge of providing area, point and security patrols at the UNMIL headquarters as well as motor transport coordination and administrative, operational and logistical support.  

The contingent is also responsible for protecting the Special Representative and the two Deputy Special Representatives, and dignitaries visiting the mission area.

The 165 Filipino soldiers deployed in Liberia are among the 621 police and military personnel presently serving in UN peacekeeping operations.

Other UN mission areas where Filipinos are deployed include Afghanistan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur in Rwanda, Georgia, Haiti, Kosovo, Sudan and Timor-Leste.



Filipinos US Military Service in Iraq & Afghanistan