Puerto Princesa City -The Philippine Navy on Friday paid tribute to military personnel assigned at Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) for their “selfless service” in protecting Philippine-held territories in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS) or Spratlys.
Soldiers, mostly from the Philippine Marines, were awarded Kalayaan Campaign Medals and Military Merit Medals during the Awarding Ceremony for the outgoing KIG security personnel at the Navy’s Western Command (WESCOM) Headquarters in this city.
The awarding was made during WESCOM’s Flag Retreat and was spearheaded by Commo. Dorvin Jose Legazpi, the WESCOM Deputy Commander, and Capt. Carlos Sabarre, the Deputy Commander for Fleet Operations, Naval Forces West (NFW).
The awardees were from the Headquarters NFW, 3rd Marine Brigade, Naval Special Operation Unit-4 and MSAC-W.
Ltjg. Maivi Neri, the NFW public information officer, said the awarding of the outgoing KIG security personnel was a regular practice of WESCOM and NFW to honor the heroic deeds of every personnel assigned in the disputed Islands.
Besides the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim parts of the Spratlys, where reefs, atolls, and islets are believed to be sitting atop vast oil and gas reserves.The area is also crisscrossed by sea-lanes where a third of global commerce pass every year.
China claims 80 percent of the South China Sea, including waters within the 370-km exclusive economic zones of its smaller neighbors.#