FORT BONIFACIO, Metro Manila – The Otto Lingue National High School in Pagadian City honored the memory of its alumnus, the late Private First Class Ian O. Paquit, by unveiling a Medal of Valor marker on June 5, 2019.
Paquit was a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military honor, for his conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on Zamboanga City by rogue Moro National Liberation Front elements led by Uztadz Habier Malik in 2013. The attack cost the lives of 20 AFP troops and five from the PNP. A total of 195 AFP and PNP troops were wounded while 208 rogue MNLF attackers were killed and another 294 were either captured or apprehended. Government forces were able to rescue 195 hostages and recover 414 firearms. Sadly, 12 civilian lives were lost and 79 were injured in the attack.
The school intended to immortalize Paquit’s heroism and inspire the youth. The marker contains the citation on Paquit’s award displayed along with his Scout Ranger battle dress uniform.
The recognition ceremony was facilitated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil Relations Service and attended by the AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Bueno Mison Jr, Deputy Commander of the Western Mindanao Command Brig. Gen. Cirilo Thomas Donato Jr, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, and the Commander of the 102nd Brigade Brig. Gen. Bagnus P. Gaerlan. High school officials, students, and Paquit’s family were present as well.
“Ang pagiging bayani ay hindi lamang sa pakikipaglaban. Ang pagiging bayani ay para sa pag unlad ng ating bayan. Maraming pagkakataon maging bayani, gawin ninyo, gawin natin,” said Mison in his address to the young students.
Paquit was with the 3rd Scout Ranger Company of the Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were he served as rifleman against more or less 100 rogue MNLF elements. At the height of the firefight, he adjusted his position to a better line of sight which made him more vulnerable to enemy fire. He was able to prevent further casualties on the government side and greatly aided to the neutralization of enemy firing positions before a bullet pierced his neck, causing his fatal death.
“Proud kami sa kanya. Nagpapasalamat kaming lahat sa pagkilala ng AFP sa kanyang kabayanihan,” said Paquit’s sister Irene.
“The story of Private First Class Paquit is just one of the countless displays of our soldiers’ resolute will to forge on despite the challenges in the battlefield. Many others may remain untold but such gestures from our civilian stakeholders inspire us to carry on with our work, and if necessary, put our lives on the line to accomplish the mission”, said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the Army spokesperson