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‘Help solve society’s ills’

The President said the world is ‘changing faster than ever, causing men in uniform to change as well.’ Still, he told PMA graduates to ‘stay true to your oath’

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte hands Cadet 1st Class Krystlenn Quemado a certificate of ownership for a house and lot that was part of her perks as class valedictorian. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MALACAÑANG

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday called on new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to lend a hand in correcting society’s “ills” as he bid them goodbye as Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief in Baguio City.

Before the 214-strong graduating cadets of the PMA “Bagsik Diwa” Class of 2022, the President admitted he resorted to extreme measures only to realize they were not enough to solve the problems.

“Sad to admit that after six years these ills still hound us though to a lesser degree,” said Mr. Duterte who would be leaving big shoes to fill by incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

With Marcos Jr. in the next administration is the President’s daughter, presumptive Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“Corruption, red tape, and illegal drugs, and crime and criminalities are the wrongs that we need to correct,” the President said. “I guess it is in the hands of the next generation of Filipino leaders and movers where our salvation rests. You, the Bagsik Diwa Class of 2022 belong to that generation.”

In late April, Duterte admitted he was “wrong” when he promised to solve the country’s illegal drugs problem within three to six months. He said it was “hubris” that made him issue the prediction.

Mr. Duterte, whose six-year term as the 16th President of the country will end next month, congratulated the graduates, those who topped the class, and also their parents.

In, out

“Noontime of 30 June 2022, my public life as President of this Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to which all of you belong, comes to an end,” he said.

“In contrast, your responsibility to uphold, protect and secure people’s rights, lives and properties officially starts today, although I am sure that responsibility was nascent when you enrolled in this academy years ago — four years to be exact,” he added.

The President cautioned that the world is “changing faster than ever, causing men in uniform to change as well.” Still, he said the PMA graduates “must stay true to their oath.”

“The man in uniform has not been spared this phenomenon, for he, too, has undergone and will continue to undergo some degree of change or transformation, although he remains rooted in the basic concept of soldiering which is to defend, protect and advance freedom and democratic institutions,” he said.

“Today, the man in uniform must be many things at the same time if he is to be relevant to the changing times. He must be both a warrior and a peacemaker; an arms-bearer and a pencil pusher; skilled in the art of war and adept as a lifesaver; an offensive machine and a fierce defender; a tribune and a diplomat; a soldier and a civil servant,” the President said.

Valedictorian

Duterte awarded the Presidential Saber to Cadet First Class Krystlenn Quemado, the valedictorian of the “Bagsik Diwa” (Bagong Sibol sa Kinabukasan Didigma Hanggang sa Wakas) class.

Quemado also received the Philippine Navy Saber, medal for academic excellence, and a certificate of ownership for a house and lot.

The 21-year-old newly-commissioned Navy 2Lt, is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato. She is a daughter of Col. Nicolas Quemado, Inspector General of the Philippine Army, and Dean Loveleih Quemad of the Notre Dame of Marbel University.

Quemado emerged the seventh woman to top a PMA class since it started accepting female cadets in 1993.

The President awarded a .45 caliber pistol to Cadet First Class Romulo Balabag Dawilan III, the so-called “class goat” or one who finished last in the overall rankings.

Duterte also pardoned the punishments and demerits of the PMA graduates.

“I, as Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces of the Philippines hereby pardon all outstanding punishments of the underclassmen — second class, third class, fourth class of the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines as recommended by the Superintendent PMA effective today.

The 214-strong Bagsik Diwa Class is composed of 49 female cadets and 165 male cadets who completed their Bachelor of Science degree in National Security Management.

Majority or 105 of them will join the Philippine Army, 52 will enter the Philippine Air Force, and 57 will serve in the Philippine Navy.

This is the first time that the PMA held an in-person commencement exercise with cadets’ parents, relatives, and dignitaries as guests since the pandemic started two years ago.

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