DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte lauded the Philippine Military Academy “Salaknib” Class of 2017 and called on them “to defend the motherland with all your honor and might.”
Salaknib, short for Sanggalang ay Lakas at Buhay Para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan, was topped by eight female cadets – the first in the PMA’s history.
“Today, we make history. This is the first time female cadets occupied eight of the top 10 spots in their graduating class. 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,” Duterte said.
Duterte also called on the graduates to remember the values they learned at the academy, despite the challenges that they will face during the years to come. Duterte told the graduates to “stay true to their roots,” and be “catalysts of change.”
“It is not only your enemies, but the entire world, that will test, tempt, corrupt and pressure you. But as long as your hearts and minds remain in the right place, you will win, conquer and persevere,” Duterte said.
“Do not be instruments of injustice and corruption. Remember your roots, remember the people whom you have pledged to serve,” Duterte added.
Meanwhile, Duterte also addressed the whole armed forces. He thanked them for their “loyalty to the Philippine Flag.”
The President also assured them that the government will be reciprocating their efforts in the form of services, benefits, and entitlements.
“You will be provided with the proper equipment and weapons, particularly body armors, helmets and rifles as well as short firearms so that you can defend yourselves even when you are off-duty,” Duterte said.
During his visit to the Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu, Duterte on March 4, announced that each soldier will be given a Glock .45 pistol to defend themselves when they are off-duty.
Duterte also announced his administration’s effort to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which he hopes to achieve in two to three year’s time.
“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 aircraft so that you can better patrol our borders and guard our seas. All of these we do so that our AFP will 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,” Duterte said. (davaotoday.com)