April 20, 2018, 1:18 am
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Duterte tells PMA grads: You have my support

BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR AND VICTOR REYES

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday urged new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to just do their jobs and assured them of his support.

The President, in addressing the PMA 2018 Commencement Exercise held in Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City, said he has the back of members of the military and police while they fulfill their mandates, though he acknowledged that mistakes are expected and inevitable.

“I will never allow, ever allow anybody - be it the police, military, armed forces or the uniformed policemen - (to go to jail) …You know, this modern trend of neo-libertarians, think they are better than us. But anyway, as I said, do not be afraid, Just do your duty in accordance with law, I will be responsible for you,” he said.

He also personally talked to each of the graduates during the handing out of the diplomas to assure them of their support.

The President said the new graduates have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to excel in whatever fields they are in, as well as to respond to whatever challenges or situation they find themselves in.

Duterte urged them to be a source of strength and inspiration to their fellow soldiers and to be instruments of meaningful change in society.

“You will be faced with realities that are far more complex than what you have been prepared for. Mistakes will always be inevitable but have confidence in knowing that the rules of the academy have honed you for the responsibilities that await you as you assume leadership roles in the armed forces,” he said.

The President reiterated his promise to leave behind a stronger and better military and police force as he again talked of his vow to defeat corruption, crimes and illegal drugs.

Duterte also acknowledged the presence of Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo, saying he and the Vice President are friends.

Prior to the event, Robredo met with the top 20 members of the “Alab Tala” PMA Class of 2018.

She welcomed that at least five members of the top 20 were women. There were about 75 women in the graduating class.

There were 282 PMA members who joined the graduation of the “Alab Tala” Class of 2018, of which 143 will join the Army, 71 the Air Force and 68 the Philippine Navy.

During the event, Duterte awarded the presidential saber to 25-year-old Cadet First Class Jaywardene Galilea Hontoria, who topped the class, while Robredo awarded the vice presidential saber to Cadet First Class Ricardo Liwaden, who was the second in his class.

The President also handed a certificate for a two-storey house and lot to Hontoria, from Camella Homes Iloilo. It was not known if the house and lot came from Duterte himself, but the certificate that the President handed was signed by former senator and now Vistaland and Lifescapes, Inc. chairman and president Manuel Villar, Jr.

Duterte also awarded a certificate for a glock pistol to Cadet First Class Haezzer Keith Atiwag, this year’s class goat. The “class goat” is the member of the graduating class with the lowest academic grade.

The President had been promising to provide members of the military and police with their own houses as well as a personal sidearm that they can carry to protect them whenever they are not on duty.

This year’s ceremony took about an hour longer to finish, which Duterte joked was due to the number of graduates this year. He even joked that he would bring a singer to provide an intermission number the next time a program would run for more than two hours.

The activities finished around 1:30 p.m. when previous graduation rites were usually concluded around noon.
 
NEW START

Hontoria, the class valedictorian, said he and his classmates are prepared for challenges that await them as new second lieutenants and ensigns in the Armed Forces.

In his valedictory address, Hontoria also assured the Filipino that his class will do its best to accomplish their duties and responsibilities.

“To my mistah(s), it was indeed a long and challenging journey. We have made many sacrifices for us to reach this point but things are yet to start as the whole Filipino nation awaits our selfless service,” he said.

“To the 282-strong members of the Alab Tala class of 2018, we can now altogether say to the more challenges that await us - bring it on,” he added.

The military is facing a number of internal security threats, including the communist New People’s Army and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Hontoria, a son of a farmer and a housewife from Pavia town in Iloilo, is a licensed nurse. He briefly served as an enlisted man of the Philippine Coast Guard before entering the PMA four years ago.

Hontoria expressed gratitude to a number of people, including his parents for their support. 

He thanked his girlfriend, Loura Fe, whom he was marrying later yesterday, “for being my number one fan, my greatest supporter, my source of strength and inspiration and for all the unconditional love and understanding.”

He also told Duterte that the AFP is “fortunate to have you as our very supportive and loving commander-in-chief.”

“To the Filipino youth, tayo pa rin lahat ang pag-asa ng ating bayan. Each one of us has a a role to perform for our country. Sana gawin natin ito ng maayos para sa bayan,” Hontoria.

“And to the Filipino people, maraming salamat po sa inyong patitiwala at pagsuporta. Nangangako po kaming gagawin po namin ng maayos ang aming mga tungkulin sa abot po ng aming makakaya,” he added.
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