Navy man who lost thumb during Ayungin incident awarded

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
Navy man who lost thumb during Ayungin incident awarded
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shakes the hand of Seaman First Class Underwater Operator Jeffrey Facundo during a ceremony in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on June 23, 2024.
The STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. awarded the Philippine Navy servicemember who was injured in a confrontation with the China Coast Guard (CCG) near Ayungin Shoal the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kampilan on Sunday.

Seaman First Class Underwater Operator Jeffrey Facundo, who lost a thumb during the clash in the West Philippine Sea, received the honor in a ceremony in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. 

The Order of Lapu-Lapu is "awarded to government officials and personnel, as well as to private individuals, in recognition of their invaluable or extraordinary service in furtherance of the President’s campaign or advocacy," the Presidential Communications Office said.

"So, as we award these medals, we remember that on June 17th, we made a conscious and deliberate choice to remain in the path of peace," Marcos said in his speech during Talk to Troops at the headquarters of the Western Command in Camp General Artemio Ricarte.

"The government will continue to provide all your needs and look after your welfare and your families’ welfare," he added.

The chief executive awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kamagi to 79 others who participated in the mission.

Marcos lauded the Western Command troops for showing restraint when confronted by hostile Chinese sailors during their recent resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

"So, I speak to you, today, as your Commander-in-Chief, I have never been prouder of the brave women, men, and not just the Western Command but the entire Armed Forces as I am today," the president said.

"I salute the eighty officers and troops who sailed the waters and exercised the greatest restraint amidst intense provocation," he added.

On June 17, the Armed Forces of the Philippines carried out a  mission to resupply the Sierra Madre outpost, which is manned by a small group of Marines. 

During the operation, the CCG attempted to obstruct the resupply, resulting in injuries to at least eight Filipinos, including Facundo.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela explained that Facundo’s injury happened during a "high-speed ramming incident" between Chinese and Filipino rigid-hull inflatable boats, describing it as an "accident."

The June 17 incident was the latest in a series of escalating confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships in recent months as Beijing steps up efforts to push its claims to the disputed area.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said on Friday that the recent confrontation could not yet be considered an armed attack as defined under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, and the incident does not trigger the Philippines' defense pact with the United States. — with report by Ghio Ong

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