Thursday, March 25, 2010
In expression of its appreciation and gratitude to the selfless sacrifice of the soldiers, Metrobank Foundation Inc and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro continue to recognize the soldiers’s contribution through the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) 2010. Three awardees each from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and one from the technical service received their trophies from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the ceremonies in Malacanang on 04 March 2010. Joining them is Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto Sobrepeña.
By: LTCOL EDGARD A AREVALO PN(M)
Director, Naval Public Affairs Office
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Three members of the Philippine Marine Corps who were instrumental in the successful operations against lawless elements in the South and communist insurgents were among the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers of (TOPS) 2010. The three, together with the seven other awardees from the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and the Technical Service were conferred their respective awards by President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo at the Malacañang Palace on 04 March 2010 before the AFP’s top brass, defense officials, and the awardees’ families and relatives.
The Marine awardees were Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Y Casem, Technical Sergeant Marcelo G Batingan, and Sergeant Vicente S Sustiverio, Jr. The Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force have three awardees each while the Technical Service has one. The selection of the 10 from an original pool of 85 nominees, the Search’s highest to date, were based from each individual’s exemplary performance, contributions to the service, and involvement in humanitarian and civic action projects.
Lt Col Casem took an active role in the combat operations against the rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front- Misuari Breakaway Group (MNLF-MBG). The operation led to the capture of the MNLF-MBG main camp in Panamao, Sulu in April 2007. In November 2006, he led an elite group of Marines which he trained, in neutralizing ASG elements in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. The operation resulted to the death of three ASG members and recovery of three high-powered firearms and assorted ammunition. Lt Col Casem also introduced the use of a pair of 6-volt rechargeable batteries as a power supply for PRC-77 tactical radios that can last for a week of operations and can be recharged for succeeding operations.
TSgt Batingan was a member of MBLT-4 that successfully launched an all-out war against the MILF- Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte. Tsgt Batingan directed and led his squad to move towards the enemies’ position and provided suppressive volume of fire that paved the way for advancing troops to neutralize and destroy the enemy. The operation resulted to the capture and control of the satellite camp from the remnants of the MILF’s 303rd Brigade and cleared the area of the presence of MILF rebels.
Sgt Sustiverio’s vast experience in the field of intelligence led to the solution of 17 high-profile robbery/hold-up cases in 2008 and the neutralization of the Waray-Waray and Ozamis OCG, recovery of critical firepower an mobility assets, and uncovering their financiers. He was also among those awarded for his pursuit of socio-economic development during the entire conduct of intelligence operations against blast fishing in Manila Bay. This culminated to a series of successful counteraction operations with the NBI, BFAR, Naval Special Operations Group, and the 202nd Naval Reserve Squadron, and subsequently, to the apprehension of a bigtime supplier of illegal chemical component for explosives in NCR and adjoining provinces, and homemade explosives used for blast fishing.
The Search for TOPS, now on its 15th year, is an annual undertaking of the Metrobank Foundation, Inc and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro that honors the career achievements of the AFP. It has already named 116 awardees. “The Search for TOPS is our way of showing appreciation for the sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces to protect the Filipino nation,” Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto Sobrepeña said.
This year’s roster of judges that included leaders from private and government sectors was chaired by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. During the final judging process, Justice Carpio said, “ I’ve always had a high regard for our military, but after interviewing them and talking to these soldiers, I even had a higher regard for the military.” “These people are very patriotic, very dedicated, and they strive to do their best in performing their job. It’s really very enlightening to meet them,” he added.