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Hero dogs, handlers get medals

VICE PRESIDENT Sara Duterte recognized the Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao’s hero dogs—Appa, Ivy, Tiffa, Britney–along with their handlers for their crucial role in the search, retrieval, and rescue operations in the Masara landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro.

Duterte graced the awarding ceremony presided over by Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao commander Commodore Rejard Marfe to personally congratulate the awardees in Sasa, on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 21.

Nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na tumayo sa harap ninyong lahat para nagpasalamat sa tulong ninyo sa probinsya ng Davao de Oro at Davao Oriental noong merong calamities and emergencies at pagpapasalamat sa inyong dedikasyon at serbisyo sa ating bayan, ” she said in her message. 

“My deepest gratitude goes out to all our volunteers, fellow citizens, and especially to our beloved hero Appa, who faced the challenges brought by the devastating landslide in Davao de Oro,” she added.

In times like this, the Vice President praised the Coast Guard personnel and K9 dogs involved in the search and rescue operations for their bravery, passion, and fearlessness. 

Duterte said the teamwork by local leaders, volunteers, firefighters, paramedics, and Coast Guard personnel embodied the spirit of “bayanihan at malasakit.” 

“Your acts of courage and kindness helped the community survive those dark hours and kept their spirits alive providing much-needed hope. And even as we grieved for those we have lost and the search and retrieval still continue for the bodies, your remarkable dedication and compassion remind us that together we are strong and resilient,” she said.

“Appa teaches us that anyone, regardless of labels, can make a difference,” she added. “May this award remind you of the impact of your bravery and dedication, inspiring you to keep saving lives and protecting our fellow Filipinos.”

Duterte also pinned the Bronze Cross medal on Appa, including his handler Petty Officer 2nd class ( PO2) Alfie B. Baba. Appa is a mixed breed of Aspin and Golden Retriever and was instrumental in the rescue of a 3-year-old girl survivor who was trapped for almost three days in the Masara landslide on Feb. 10. 

Aside from Appa, K9 working dogs from Coast Guard District Western Mindanao and Coast District BARMM like Britney [golden retriever] and her handler, CG PO1 Miguel L Yniego Jr.; Tiffa [Belgian] with her handler, CG PO1 Renelio G. Lorion; and Ivy [Belgian] with her handler, CG PO2 An-nur J. Yusop, also received recognition from Duterte. 

Commodore Marfe thanked the awardees for their efforts. “The community now sees canines as crucial assets, especially in vital search and rescue operations aimed at saving lives. As long as natural disasters persist, the efforts of PCG SAR Personnel remain ceaseless,” he said.


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