15 Pinoy seafarers receive medal from Norwegian Armed Forces

Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2015 03:06 AM | Updated as of Sep 18 2015 11:06 AM

MANILA - Fifteen Filipino seafarers from MV Taiko received the Operation Medal from the Norwegian Armed Forces (NAF) on Thursday, marking the first time since World War 2 that civilians were awarded the medal, and the first time that non-Norwegian civilians were given the honor.

The Filipino crew were awarded for their efforts in assisting the NAF and the Norwegian government in removing chemical weapons from Syria.

The mission was carried out from December 2013 to July 2014 on behalf of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said that the mission was of great importance for the population of Syria, the UN, and for international peace and security.

"The operation was completed under exceptionally challenging circumstances. Taiko was extremely exposed and vulnerable for the time it took to take on board the chemical weapons in Syria. Occasionally, the loading of the ship was accompanied by the sound of missiles and mortars. The 15 seafarers represented here today ensured that hundreds of tons of chemical weapons were transported from Syria and safely destroyed," Førner said.

One of the Filipino crewmen, Ted Jallorina, was beaming with pride as the medal was pinned on his barong.

"Nakakatakot, pero masaya din na may nagawa kaming ganito. Malaking honor, para din sa ibang Pinoy na seamen," said Jallorina.

Six more Filipino seafarers of the MV Taiko were awarded the Operation Medal during a ceremony in Norway in June this year.

The maritime sector has been the cornerstone of Philppine-Norwegian bilateral relations. More than 25,000 Filipino seafarers are on board Norwegian-owned or controlled vessels at any time.