PMA grads told: Be loyal to flag, not superiors
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Be catalysts of change and vanguards of hope.

President Duterte made this call on the new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) yesterday as he reminded them to place their loyalty to the country above everything else.

“Out there, the challenge will not just require your intellectual or physical capabilities, but your sound moral judgment as well. It is not only your enemies, but the entire world, that will test, tempt, corrupt and pressure you,” Duterte told the PMA “Salaknib” Class of 2017.

He urged the graduates to bring with them the values they learned from the academy wherever they go.

“But as long as your hearts and minds remain in the right place whom you have pledged to serve, remember your roots and remember the people. Be vanguards of hope; be catalysts of change,” he said.

Duterte, as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, advised the new commissioned officers to be loyal to their oath of office and not to their superiors.

“Just be true to your oath of office. Do not pledge loyalty to a person, a human being. It’s always to the flag and to the Constitution. That’s my advice to you,” the President said.

“Never propagate or nurture loyalty to a government worker who is also like you. We are on the same boat, we work for the Filipinos,” he added.

Duterte asked members of the Salaknib Class of 2017 to always stay true to their name and defend the motherland with all their honor and might. Salaknib stands for Sangalang ay lakas at buhay para sa kalayaan ng Inang Bayan.

“You have been trained and molded like all other cavaliers, but your true self will make the officer, soldier and leader in you,” Duterte said.

The President vowed to provide the military the equipment it needs to perform its mandate.

“You will be provided with the proper equipment and weapons, particularly body armors, helmets and rifles as well as short firearms so that you can defend yourselves even when you are off-duty,” he said.

Duterte said the military would have flight simulators, radars, support, patrol and assault vehicles, and new surveillance and fighter aircraft in the next two to three years so it can better patrol and guard the country’s borders and seas.

“All of these we do so that our AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) 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,” he said.

“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.”

Duterte also thanked the soldiers “who risked their lives and limbs to defend this country’s sovereignty” and those “who continue to offer their sweat and blood to fortify the pillars of a great nation.”

“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.

Duterte also condoled with the families of soldiers who died in combat and assured them that their needs would be provided.

“Let me assure the bereaved that the valiant sacrifices of your loved ones will not be in vain,” he said.

Duterte said PMA Class of 2017 has made history, noting that it is the first time female cadets occupied eight of the top ten spots in their graduating class.

“With the highest number of graduating women in PMA’s history, this breakthrough is a fitting tribute to our mothers, sisters and daughters as we celebrate women’s month,” he said.

Duterte also pardoned the outstanding punishment of cadets, a time honored graduation tradition of the PMA.

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