By Ralph Villanueva/Manila Times/Baguio City
President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday told graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to “be good soldiers” who should “serve the Constitution, protect the people, secure our sovereignty, and preserve the integrity of our national territory,” especially at this time when “complex and irrational state and non-state actors may even pose danger to our country.”
Duterte was keynote speaker at the graduation rites of the PMA “Mabalasik” Class of 2019 here where 261 cadets graduated. Also in attendance was Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo who, along with the Liberal Party, was accused a week ago of plotting to oust Duterte. She and the LP denied this.
Duterte said that graduation was just the beginning of the cadets’ bigger path to becoming soldiers and the “start of an even bigger challenge as you enter your chosen branch of service and assume leadership roles in our armed forces.”
Duterte then told the graduates vital points to live by for their careers — be humble, teachable, be grateful and be connected by always looking after each other’s backs.
“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 said.
He said that the graduates would be able to help him craft a better future for Filipinos by standing by what they learned at the PMA.
“As you leave the halls of this great and noble institution that is the Philippine Military Academy, may you, young idealistic graduates, strengthen your dedication and lasting peace that will be enjoyed by the future generation — of generations,” he said. “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 added.
Yesterday’s event was the first public appearance of Duterte since rumours swirled that he was hospitalised following a cardiac arrest. His last public appearance was during the May 13 mid-term elections.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana handed the diplomas to the graduates as Duterte watched while seated.
Duterte also shared a light moment with Robredo before his speech, teasing her that she did not smile at him like she did before.
The two also shook hands and spent a minute chatting after the ceremony.
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