‘As instruments of change’

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Fort del Pilar, Baguio City (May 15, 2”2022) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte called on the graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 2022 to “be many things at the same time” especially as instruments of change while ensuring they remain true to their oath as soldiers of the land.

Speaking during the graduation rites of the 214-strong “Bagsik Diwa” class of 2022, Duterte said although there is “some degree of change or transformation” among the cadets, they remain rooted to the basic concept of “soldiering”.

“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. You can be all these if you want,” he told the graduates.

The PMA Duterte believed has sufficiently prepared the graduates for all possibilities and all eventualities.

Duterte also gave a special congratulations to the top graduating cadets of this class who have shown “remarkable leadership qualities and academic excellence.”

“The eyes of the Filipino people are upon you. Always remain true to your oath. By your actuations in public, The Philippine Military Academy, shall be judged. You are the face of your alma mater,” he added.

Duterte said as he steps down as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by June 30,  the graduates will only be starting their responsibility to uphold, protect and secure people’s rights, lives, and properties.

The President acknowledged that society’s ills such as “corruption, red tape, illegal drugs, and crime and criminalities” still hound the nation but is hopeful that the “next generation” of Filipinos would accept the challenge of correcting these “wrongs.”

“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,” he said, as he described the graduates as “the best that the youth of this land can offer”.

Meanwhile, Duterte awarded a house and lot to Cadet First Class Krystlenn Ivany Quemado who topped the  “Bagsik Diwa” Class of 2022.  She was also awarded the Presidential Saber, Philippine Navy Saber, medal for academic excellence, academic group award, Department of Humanities plaque, Department of Management plaque, Department of Social Sciences plaque, Department of Leadership plaque, Navy Professional Courses plaque, Joint US Military Assistance Group award, Association of Generals and Flag Officers award, Spanish Armed Forces award, and Australian Defense Best Overall Performance award.

Quemado, becoming an Ensign Sunday to the Philippine Navy, is the seventh woman to top a PMA class since it began accepting female cadets in 1993.

Also,  Duterte awarded the class “goat” (one who finished last in the overall ranking) Cadet First Class Romulo Balabag Dawilan III, a .45 caliber pistol.

Quemado is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato while Dawilan is from Sagada, Mountain Province.

Sunday’s PMA commencement rites is the first in-person graduation exercises since the pandemic.

Artemio A. Dumlao