Military and public officials witnessed the unveiling of the memorabilia of Private First Class Ian Paquit, a Medal of Valor awardee, in a ceremony held in Pagadian City yesterday, June 5.
Pfc Paquit distinguished himself for his acts of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as an automatic rifleman of the Special Operations Command during an armed encounter with factions of the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City in 2013.
“Nay, ang anak mo ay sundalo ng Republika ng Pilipinas na handang makipaglaban at mamatay mailigtas lamang ang ating bansa (Ma, your son is a warrior, ready to fight and to die just to defend our country,” said the late Pfc Paquit, despite repeated pleadings for him to leave the battleground.
“Pfc Paquit was one of the military men who fought to defend the city. He was hit on the neck and was rushed to the hospital. He was given a 15-day leave, but he did not avail of it. Instead, he went back to the battlefield,” said Arnold Cabantug, Otto Lingue National High School principal.
Despite the enemy’s massive fire power, Pfc Paquit adjusted his position to the most perilous spot to protect the troops and to deliver accurate fires toward the MNLF’s strongholds, causing him his life.
Cabantug said this was the first time for Otto Lingue National High School and even for the entire province of Zamboanga del Sur to have a graduate with a Medal of Valor at such a young age.
Pfc Paquit was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor in December 2013.
“Aking pinasasalamatan ang gumawa nitong recognition dahil ito pa lang ang unang ginawa at sa anak ko pa iginawad ang Medal of Valor. Nagpapasalamat rin ako sa mahal na Pangulo na nag-apruba nito (I want to thank the people who worked for this recognition. This is the first time that the memorabilia was made, and I am happy to learn that the same was made for my son),” said Eduard Paquit, the father of the Medal of Valor awardee,
AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Salvador Melchor Mison, Jr. said the armed forces take pride in the heroism of Pfc Paquit.
“Nay, tay, kami po ang magpapasalamat sa inyo dahil bayani ang inyong anak. Hindi mauubos ang pagpapasalamat ng Armed Forces. Kung may kailangan po kayo, lumapit lamang po kayo sa mga sundalo,” added Lt. Gen. Mison, Jr.
Dr. Julieto Fernandez, Department of Education Pagadian Division Superintendent, said: “This (recognition) will remind us that an ordinary man, who was once enrolled in this school, did an extraordinary job beyond his duty, and that made him great. I know that we can also do great things by doing things beyond our duty.”
The unveiling of Pfc Paquit’s memorabilia was held at Otto Lingue National High School, where the hero finished his secondary education.
Brigadier General Cirilo Thomas Donato, Jr., Western Mindanao Command Deputy Commander for Administration, and other officials graced the unveiling ceremony in Pagadian City yesterday.
“The courage and dedication displayed by our heroes, like Pfc Paquit, in the face of adversity shall continue to drive us to fight hard and to win our battles for our countrymen and for peace and development to thrive on our lands,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom chief.