FORT DEL PILAR–President Rodrigo Duterte attended on Sunday the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Salaknib Class of 2017 encouraging the newly-minted officers to serve the Filipino people with utmost dedication and remain true to their oath of defending the country.
“To the Salaknib Class of 2017, may you always stay true to your class name and defend the motherland with all your honor and might,” the President said in his speech before the 167 fresh graduates who were commissioned second lieutenants and ensigns of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“I have no doubt that you will do this because you are the cream of the crop. You belong to the batch who has successfully hurdled the rigors of the PMA from over 22,000 applicants,” he added.
The President warned them of temptations and pressures that they might encounter in performing their duties.
When facing hurdles, Duterte advised the graduates to just remember their roots and the people whom they have pledged to serve and always put their hearts and minds in the right place.
“Be vanguards of hope; be catalysts of change,” he stressed.
President Duterte also took the opportunity to thank all Filipino soldiers for their loyalty to the Philippine flag particularly those who have risked their lives to defend the country’s sovereignty as well as those who continue to work to build the nation.
“Rest assured that the government will reciprocate your valor and your unwavering courage by providing you with all the necessary support and incentives,” he said.
“This administration will give you and your families the services, benefits and entitlements that you rightfully deserve,” he added.
He said the government will provide the AFP with the proper equipment and weapons, particularly body armors, helmets and rifles as well as short firearms so soldiers could defend themselves even when off-duty.
Duterte also pledged to provide flight simulators, radars, support patrol and assault vehicles as well as new surveillance and fighter aircraft in the next two to three years to be used to guard the country’s borders.
He said these initiatives are aimed to make AFP more effective in pursuing its mandate and improve capabilities of 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 noted.
The President also told the graduates to do their work with great pride, knowing that the government and the Filipino people are with them in every step of the way.
Powered by strong convictions and an unshakable faith in the Filipino, he encouraged them to overcome the challenges that lie ahead and usher in a great future for the nation.
At the same time, the President said the PMA has made history for having eight female cadets in the Top 10 of the academy’s graduating class for the first time including class valedictorian Rovi Mairel Martinez.
“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.
The President, meanwhile, pardoned all outstanding punishments of the Cadet Corps as part of the tradition when a batch graduates. The pardon will take effect today, Sunday.