Fort General Gregorio H. Del Pilar, Baguio City
March 12, 2017

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Salaknib” Class of 2017 at Fort General Gregorio H. Del Pilar in Baguio City.

In his keynote address, the President stressed that the graduation ceremonies this year is historical, for it is the first time that female cadets have occupied eight of the Top 10 spots in the graduating class, led by the 23-year old valedictorian from Cabanatuan City, former Cadet First Class now Ensign Rovi Mairel Martinez of the Philippine Navy (PN).

“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,” he said.

President Duterte also took the opportunity to thank all Filipino soldiers for their loyalty to the nation, and assured that government would reciprocate their bravery and dedication by providing them all the necessary support and incentives.

“This administration will give you and your families the services, benefits and entitlements that you rightfully deserve,” said the Chief Executive, adding that the armed forces would be given proper equipment and arms, particularly body armors, helmets, rifles, and short firearms, which they could utilize in defense even during off-duties.

The President said that in the next two to three years, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would also have flight simulators, radars, support, patrol and assault vehicles. Furthermore, a new surveillance and fighter aircraft will also be acquired for the improvement of the military’s patrols in the country’s boarders and 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,” he said.

At the end of his speech, President Duterte urged the 167 newly commissioned members of the AFP to always stay true to their class name and defend the country with honor and might.

“I have no doubt that you will do this because you are the cream of crop. You belong to a batch who have successfully hurdled the rigors of the PMA from over 22,000 applicants,” he ended.

“Salaknib” is the Ilocano term for “shield”, and stands for Sanggalang ay Lakas at Buhay Para sa Kalayaan Ng Inang Bayan.

This year’s commencement exercises marked the President’s first attendance as President of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

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