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Army sees well-equipped, respectable force by 2016

Marking its 117th founding anniversary yesterday, the Philippine Army said its aims to build a “well-equipped Army that has established a respectable image in Southeast Asia” by 2016.

“Internally, the systems are undergoing improvement and new equipment are in the pipeline,” Army commanding general Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri said during yesterday’s Army anniversary celebration.

He said the military expects delivery within the year of M4 rifles, force protection equipment and rocket launchers, and more radio equipment early next year.

At Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation on March 16, President Benigno S. Aquino III also announced that at least 63,000 new rifles will be distributed to the country’s soldiers in the coming months.

The new weapons, the President said, will replace the units dating back to the Vietnam War years.

In yesterday’s anniversary celebration graced by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, the Army also honored its outstanding soldiers and stakeholders.

The Philippine Army did not only recognize heroes in combat but also those who had exhibited courage and heroism in the conduct of humanitarian and disaster response operations. It also honored civilian entities and organizations for their support and contribution for the attainment of the Army’s goals.

Leading this year’s awardees with the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest combat award next to the Medal of Valor, is Capt, Jeson G. Capoquian of the 41st Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division whose courage and gallantry in combat resulted in the neutralization of eight New People’s Army rebels, the wounding of several others, and the recovery of 13 high-powered firearms during an encounter in Tineh, Abra.

The third highest combat award, the Gold Cross Medal, on the other hand, was awarded to PFC Julie S. Tandoc of the 24th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division.