The Embassy of the Philippines observed the 65th anniversary of the landing of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, “PEFTOK,” at the War Memorial in Seoul yesterday. On this occasion, H. E. Raul S. Hernandez, the ambassador of Philippines to Korea, proclaimed, “On behalf of the government and the people of the Philippines, I have the unique honor to express, to your government and your people, an unburnished pride for our historic role 65 years ago, and a heartfelt gratitude for 66 years of loyal and steadfast friendship and partnership through thick and through thin.”
The program was organized to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the landing of PEFTOK in Pusan on Sept. 19, 1950 in response to the United Nations' appeal for international assistance in repelling North Korea's invasion of the South. The Philippines was the first Asian country and the third U.N. member to deploy troops to the Korean War. A total of 7,420 officers and men of PEFTOK, who were already on the field fighting communist rebels in their homeland, were dispatched by the war-torn country. One hundred twelve soldiers were killed in action, 303 were wounded, and 16 men officially remain missing-in-action.
The unconditional support that the Philippines extended to the even-younger Republic of Korea at a time that its own existence was in danger has become the foundation of a strong bond between the two nations.
For the past 60 years, the two nations have maintained bilateral exchanges in politics, security, trade, education, and socio-cultural cooperation. In terms of trade and investment with Korea, the Philippines has 3 major goals: increasing the market for Philippine exports, encouraging foreign direct investment from Korea, and enhancing cooperation for development. At present, approximately 100,000 Koreans are permanently residing in the Philippines, while about 52,000 Filipinos work and reside in South Korea.
Director General Park Jong-wang of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans expressed his deepest gratitude on behalf of the Korean government, and said that the Philippines' actions will be remembered forever with the deepest gratitude. He further stated that the Korean government will commit to ensure that the legacy is passed onto future generations.
Major General Chang Kwang-hyun, a senior member of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission and chairman of the U.N.-Korean War Allies Association, also expressed sincere respect and gratitude to the soldiers for their bravery and noble sacrifice to protect the freedom of the people of a small country in SouthEast Asia.