PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday told the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Mabalasik Class of 2019 to serve the country well and die for it if necessary.
Duterte served as the guest of honor and keynote speaker for the PMA graduation rites.
“Serve your country well. Die for your country if need be,” Duterte told the 261 cadets who graduated from the military school.
“Remember the young Filipinos yet to come, the children who are now studying. Huwag mong kalimutan ‘yan. And if you think the country is not run the way it is, and if it will destroy your country, you should know what to do,” he added.
In virtue of his position as the President, Duterte also serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He told the newly-graduated cadets to be humble and be teachable, and always be grateful to their seniors, officers, professors, enlisted personnel and other civilians.
The President also told the PMA Mabalasik Class of 2019 to watch each other’s back all the time, urging them to stay together as a team.
“I ask you to always remain faithful to your mission. Be a good soldier who will serve the Constitution, protect the people, secure our sovereignty and preserve the integrity of our national territory,” he said.
Towards the end of his speech, Duterte also signed a document pardoning all outstanding punishments for the PMA underclassmen.
He even joked that the top offenses being pardoned include rape and drug use with robbery.
“I’ll pass you this time because I need good and capable soldiers. And I know one or two is bound to happen. Pero patawarin ko kayo,” Duterte said.
Cadet 1st Class Dionne Mea Apolog Umalla from Ilocos Sur led the PMA Mabalasik Class of 2019 graduates. The class made history as five of its Top 10 graduating cadets this year, including the class topnotcher, are females.
Umalla bagged 14 special awards including the Presidential Saber Award, Philippine Navy Saber, and the Leadership plaque, among others.
Also belonging to the top 10 graduates are four female cadets, namely, Cadets First Class Jahziel Tandoc, Marnel Fundales, Glyn Elinor Marapao, and Angelique Pasos.
Other top graduating cadets include Cadets First Class Jonathan Mendoza, Daniel Heinz Lucas, Aldren Altamero, Richard Lonogan, and Daryl James Ligutan.
The graduation ceremonies were supposed to start at 9 a.m., but it was delayed after Duterte arrived around 11 a.m.
He then sat beside Robredo, which was only the second instance in the PMA’s graduation rites since they both took office in 2016.
In the 2017 PMA graduation ceremonies, Duterte and Robredo sat apart from each other.
Two of the graduating cadets, however, were not allowed TO graduate yesterday for violation of school regulation.
Major Reynan Afan of the PMA Public Information Office said that cadets are still under the regulations of PMA even in the last hour before graduation until President Rodrigo Duterte shakes their hands which would make their graduation official.