BAGUIO CITY: Attending his first Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation rites as a commander in chief, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday urged the graduates to be “vanguards of hopes” and “catalysts of change.”
Speaking before the graduates of the PMA “Salaknib” Class 2017, the President reminded the PMA graduates not to be lured by “enemies” out to weaken their physical capabilities and moral reasoning.
“Out there, the challenge will not just require your intellectual or physical capabilities, but your sound moral judgment as well,” Duterte said in his speech.
“It is not only your enemies, but the entire world, that will test, tempt, corrupt and pressure you. But as long as your hearts and minds remain in the right place, [for]whom you have pledged to serve, remember your roots and remember the people. Be vanguards of [hope]; be catalysts of change,” he added.
The President urged the PMA graduates to uphold their integrity and defend the country with their “honor and might.”
“You have been trained and molded like all other cavaliers, but your true self will make the officer, soldier and leader in you. You no longer carry the identities that you once possessed before you entered the academy. Instead, you have been molded to become leaders, officers and men and women of character,” he said.
“May the values and learning imparted to you during your years in the academy be engraved in your hearts and may these guide you wherever life leads you,” the President added.
Duterte then assured the PMA graduates of government support.
“Rest assured that the government will reciprocate your valor and your unwavering courage by providing you with all the necessary support and incentives. This administration will give you and your families the services, benefits and entitlements that you rightfully deserve,” he said.
The President said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would be provided with proper equipment and weapons, particularly body armor, helmets and rifles as well as short firearms that officers can use for protection when off-duty.
In the next two to three years, the AFP will have flight simulators, radars, support, patrol and assault vehicles and new surveillance and fighter aircraft so that the military can better patrol the country’s borders and seas.
“All of these we do so that our AFP will be more effective in pursuing its mandate, in assisting law enforcement agencies in battling crime and illegal drugs and in undertaking relief and rescue efforts during disasters and calamities. With our people’s continued support, we will have an AFP that we can truly be proud of—an AFP that will be at par with the rest of the world,” he added.
The Chief Executive then thanked all Filipino soldiers for their “loyalty to the Philippine flag. “
The President also hailed the achievements of the female graduates of the PMA Salaknib Class.
“Today, we make history. This is the first time female cadets occupied eight of the top 10 spots in their graduating class,” he said, noting that this year’s graduating class had the highest number of female members in PMA history (see related story on A1).
“This breakthrough is a fitting tribute to our mothers, sisters [and]daughters as we celebrate Women’s Month,” Duterte said.
Salaknib’s top graduate is Cadet 1st Class Rovi Mairel Martinez, who opted to go to the Navy. Martinez, who graduated cum laude, received the presidential saber for academic excellence.