The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday (August 25, 2021) bestowed military awards on Olympic medalists and soldier-athletes, Air Force Staff Sgt. Hidilyn Diaz and Sgt. Eumir Felix Marcial during a ceremony conducted at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Diaz, the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s weightlifting (55kg category) competition, won the Outstanding Achievement Medal with Second Bronze Anahaw Leaf for her triumphant achievement.
The military command also presented her with a plaque of recognition, the Philippine flag, and a simple token.
“What Staff Sgt. Diaz has done was to bring hope and inspiration to millions of our fellow Filipinos, who up until this day continue to battle against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic,” AFP deputy chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria, who represented AFP chief Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., during the recognition ceremony at the General Headquarters canopy area in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Faustino has been placed in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Marcial, a bronze medalist in the men’s middleweight boxing division, was awarded the Chief of Staff, AFP Commendation Medal and Ribbon.
The military also congratulated boxers Nesty Petecio and Carlo Paalam on their silver medal win in Tokyo.
“We hope that through this simple yet meaningful ceremony, we would be able to inspire our soldiers and civilian human resource, not only to be more active in sports, but also in the performance of their respective duties in protecting and securing the peace and stability of our country,” Gloria said.
The AFP offers a direct enlistment program that allows athletes to join its ranks.
This gives them access to training facilities as well as puts them on the AFP payroll for regular salary.
As of July of this year, there are 128 military athletes and coaches competing in various sporting events. There are 23 members of the Philippine Army, 64 members of the Philippine Air Force, and 41 members of the Philippine Navy.