Drenched in a downpour, members of the Philippine Military Academy’s ‘Mabalasik’ class throw their ‘shakus’ up in the air after graduating yesterday.
Andy Zapata Jr.
Duterte to PMA cadets: Secure Philippine sovereignty
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 27, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday called on new military officers and cadets to act if the Philippines is “not run the way it is” and to be good soldiers who are ready to die defending the country’s sovereignty.

Speaking during the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Mabalasik” class 2019 (Mandirigma ng Bayan Lakas at Sarili Iaalay para sa Kapayapaan), Duterte urged cadets to remain faithful to their mission as they face what he called “complex and irrational state and non-state actors” that may pose danger to the country.

“Be a good soldier who will serve the Constitution, protect the people, secure our sovereignty, and preserve the integrity of our national territory,” Duterte told this year’s PMA graduates at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.

He broke tradition in the graduation rites as he trooped the “long gray line” while riding on the “PMA Carabao” instead of marching as he did during the rites last year.

Duterte skipped handing over the awards and certificates of the graduating class, except for topnotcher Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla who received the Presidential Saber and a certificate for a house and lot from the commander-in-chief.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana instead took charge of handing over the awards and certificates to the rest of the 216 graduates.

In 2018, Duterte even bantered with each PMA graduate, especially those from Mindanao and his hometown Davao, as he handed over the diplomas.

The graduating class’ fifth placer, Aldren Maambong Altamero, is from Kidapawan City in North Cotabato.

Toward the end of his 13-minute speech, the President said the cadets should be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for the country.

“Serve your country well. Die for your country if it needs be. Remember the young Filipinos yet to come, the children and those who are now studying. Do not forget that,” Duterte said, drawing affirmative responses from cadets.

“And if you think that the country is not run the way it is and if it will destroy your country, you should know what to do. Do you understand me? Good,” he added.

Duterte did not elaborate on his statement. In his previous speeches, he had claimed that some government officials are into illegal drug trade, an activity that he said is destroying the country and the future generation. The President has also been saying that security forces are free to oust him if they are no longer satisfied with his performance or if he lies to them.

Duterte reminded the 261 members of PMA class 2019 that their graduation marks the start of an even bigger challenge as they enter their chosen branch of military service and assume leadership roles in the armed forces.

He urged the new PMA graduates to be humble and to maintain discipline in all their endeavors.

“Be humble. Nothing beats humility. Always remember that the rank, authority and trust of your subordinates and the people that you serve are borne out of respect for the office that you carry,” Duterte said.

“Be teachable. In all definitions of disciplines and endeavors, the way to success requires order and discipline,” he added.

Duterte also asked members of the Mabalasik class 2019 to be grateful to their seniors, officers, professors, enlisted personnel and other civilians who taught them, prayed for them, and believed in them.

“Always look at each other’s backs. In the field, nobody wins alone. Where many old mindsets are fading fast and new ones are coming from unprecedented sources,” the President said.

“I urge you always embody courage and loyalty as you pursue your noble careers in the military. Let these values be your beacon until your last taps are sung and your perpetual memory would be to see your country truly free,” he added.

Duterte expressed hope that this year’s PMA graduates would strengthen their dedication to work for lasting peace.

“With you behind me, I am confident that we can build the foundations of a better, safer, and more peaceful life for all Filipinos,” he said.

Of the 261 graduating cadets, two came from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, two from Caraga, 10 from Region 10, another 10 from Region 11, 15 from Region 12 and two from Region 13.

Visayans also comprised the second biggest number of graduates with 47, following the Tagalogs that had 86.

While Duterte did not personally hand the awards and certificates, he immediately stood when it was the class goat’s turn on stage and handed John Mark Solomon a Sig Sauer 9mm caliber pistol as gift.

An insider from the Office of the President also hinted that Duterte gifted topnotcher Umalla with a house and lot from Camella Homes, adding that “she can choose the area (lot) where Camella Homes are anywhere in the country.”

After his brief address forsaking adlibs and colorful language, the President bade the graduating cadets to serve the country well.

Then came the heavy downpour that drenched the graduates and their kin on the sidelines of Borromeo Field. – With Artemio Dumlao 

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