Speaking before the PMA Salaknib Class of 2017, President Duterte assured graduates and top officials that his administration will continue to further modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines in order to be on par with its international counterparts.
He announced that more modern military aircrafts, sea vessels, and other equipment are to be expected in the next two to three years to improve the patrol of the country’s territory and combat security threats.
“In the next two to three years, the AFP will have flight simulators, radars, support, patrol and assault vehicles, as well as new surveillance and fighter aircrafts so that they can better patrol our borders and guard our seas,” the President said.
“All of these improvements are intended to enable our AFP to 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 added.
He personally thanked all the Filipino soldiers for their loyalty to the Philippine flag. Duterte said that his administration values the soldiers’ valor and courage and in return, will be committed to provide them with all the necessary support and incentives.
“To give recognition those who risked their lives and limbs to defend this country’s sovereignty as well as those who continue to offer their sweat and blood to fortify the pillars of a great nation that we are presently trying to build,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the fallen soldiers and had promised to provide assistance to their bereaved families.
The President cited improving the modernization of the military amid the various issues that the current administration is facing; from terrorism, to the illegal drugs trade and other crimes in the country. It is also about time that the country doubled its efforts on securing its territories in the West Philippine Sea and the newly discovered territory on the east, the Benham Rise.
Reports have stated that a Chinese ship was spotted in the area recently, which could be an easy violation of territorial waters as Benham Rise is located within local territory.
During the ceremony, the President praised the record-high number of women in this year’s batch led by class valedictorian Rovi Martinez of Cabanatuan City. This is the first time in PMA history where eight spots of the Top 10 were taken by female cadets.
“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.
Martinez herself had chosen to be commissioned in the Philippine Navy. This year’s Salaknib class consisted of 167 newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenants; 90 will serve the Philippine Army, 44 will go to the Philippine Navy and 33 will join the Philippine Air Force.