30 May 2012 - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario led today’s commemoration by the Philippines of the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers to honor the memory of fallen Filipino peacekeepers and to pay tribute to those still serving in conflict areas overseas.
“Today, we remember the fallen — the close to three thousand men and women from all over the world who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace,” Secretary del Rosario, who is also chair of the National Council for United Nations Peace Operations of the Philippines, told government officials and members of the diplomatic corps at ceremonies at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this morning.
Secretary del Rosario delivers his message during the program commemorating International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers (left photo) while government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and guests listen (right photo).
“On this day, we also pay tribute to the more than 120,000 peacekeepers currently serving in 17 UN mission areas who work selflessly with great courage and under the most difficult of conditions to help lay the foundations for peace and security in conflict areas of the globe,” Secretary del Rosario said.
The Philippines has lost a total of 22 military, police and civilian personnel while serving in UN peace operations. The latest fatalities are Joseph Ubaldo of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and Charles Uy of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The two were among the 112 men and women peacekeepers who died in the line of duty last year as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.
Secretary del Rosario confers the Gawad Diosdado Macapagal on former Chief Justice and Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., who was recognized for helping expand the Philippines’ participation in UN peace operations during his term as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.
The Philippines first took part in UN peacekeeping operations in 1963 after President Diosdado Macapagal approved the deployment of 9th Tactical Air Force Squadron to support UN operations in the Congo. Filipino peacekeepers have since then served with the UN in Cambodia, Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Burundi, Kosovo, Georgia and Nepal.
At present, the Philippines has 922 military and police personnel serving as military observers, staff officers, police officers and members of formed contingents in Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Golan Heights, Haiti, Kashmir, Liberia, South Sudan and Timor-Leste.
In today’s ceremonies, Secretary del Rosario presented the Gawad Diosdado Macapagal to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo in recognition of his role in enlarging Philippine participation in UN operations during his stint as chair of the Interagency Council on UN Peace Operations.
Aside from Secretary Romulo, the other recipients of the award were Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., who was recognized for helping expand the Philippines’ participation in UN peace operations during his term as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York; Army Gen. Jaime de los Santos, former force commander of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, for being the first Filipino to head a UN peacekeeping force; and Police Director Rodolfo Tor, former UN Police Commissioner in Timor-Leste, for being the first Filipino police officer to serve in such a high-ranking position.
Secretary del Rosario hands the Gawad Diosdado Macapagal to Brig. Gen. Tesero Isleta, AFP (Ret.) who represented the officers and men of the Philippine Air Force’s 9th Tactical Squadron.
Awards were also presented to the family of Staff Sgt. Antonio Batomalaque in recognition of his heroism after becoming the first Filipino to be killed in action while serving in Haiti in 2005 and to the officers and men of the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Philippine Air Force who were the first peacekeepers to be deployed overseas in 1963. The unit was represented by Brig. Gen. Tereso Isleta.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is celebrated every 29th day of May and is in accordance with UN General Assembly (GA) Resolution 57/129, that was adopted on December 11, 2002 The date, May 29, marks the anniversary of the creation in 1948 of the first-ever UN peacekeeping operations — the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
The observance of the event in Manila was made official by Proclamation No. 1755 that declared the 29th day of May each year as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in the Philippines.