Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Commencement Exercises of the PMA “Salaknib” Class 2017
Fajardo Grandstand, Borromeo Field, Fort General Gregorio H. del Pilar, Baguio City
12 March 2017

Thank you. Kindly sit down.

I’d like to begin by just giving you a message from…

Taos-puso akong nakikiramay sa mga nasawi sa kamay ng kalaban. Let me assure the bereaved that the valiant sacrifices of your loved ones will not be in vain. Your government will ensure that your needs will be taken care of. That is my commitment to you.

Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; General Eduardo Año; Lieutenant General Donato San Juan; Mayor Mauricio Domogan; the foreign service attachés; the officials, faculty members and staff of the Philippine Military Academy; PMA Salaknib Class of 2017; and to their parents to whom this moment rightfully belong; the cadet corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; fellow workers in government; my beloved countrymen.

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.

To the Salaknib Class of 2017, may you always stay true to your class name and defend the motherland with all your honor and might.

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

I know that many of our graduating cadets have had mixed emotions for the past few days. It must be difficult to contain the excitement and jubilation, as well as the expectations and apprehensions, that graduation brings.

But we need to acknowledge your overwhelming feelings — for they remind you of the life you have to leave behind and at the same time, they transport you to a new world of service to the nation.

The training and education that you have gone through in the Academy are just part and parcel of the kind of soldier that all of you will become.

You have been trained and molded like all other cavaliers, but your true self will make the officer, soldier and leader in you.

You no longer carry the identities that you once possessed before you entered the Academy. Instead, you have been molded to become leaders, officers and men and women of character.

May the values and learning imparted to you during your years in the Academy be engraved in your hearts and may these guide you wherever life leads you.

Out there, the challenge will not just require your intellectual or physical capabilities, but your sound moral judgment as well.

I apologize, ma’am. It was not done. [Can you give the tikas pahinga? Pakibigay ng tikas pahinga.]

Ang nagsulat ma’am dito hindi ka sinali. [laughter] Bugbugin na lang natin. [laughter and applause] I would like to apologize and acknowledge the presence of this beautiful lady, the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines. [applause] Sorry, ma’am ha. Nawala na ako tuloy, ma’am. [laughter]

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 whom you have pledged to serve, remember your roots and remember the people.

Be vanguards of [hope]; be catalysts of change.

At this point, I would like to personally thank all Filipino soldiers for your loyalty to the Philippine flag. To those who risked their lives and limbs to defend this country’s sovereignty as well as those who continue to offer their sweat and blood to fortify the pillars of a great nation that we are presently trying to build.

Rest assured that the government will reciprocate your valor and your unwavering courage by providing you with all the necessary support and incentives.

This administration will give you and your families the services, benefits and entitlements that you rightfully deserve.

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.

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.

With our people’s continued support, we will have an AFP that we can truly be proud of—an AFP that will be at par with the rest of the world.

Therefore, to the Salaknib Class of 2017 and to the men and women of the AFP, I say this to you: Proceed with your heads held high, knowing that the government and the Filipino people are with you in every step of the way. Powered by our strong convictions and an unshakable faith in the Filipino, let us overcome the challenges that lie ahead and usher in a great future for our nation.

Long live the Armed Forces of the Philippines! Long live our strong and beloved Republic of the Philippines! [applause]

This will be the first time. I remember signing a document of pardon. Pero ito pardon ng — pardon of… May I read it. Gusto ninyong makinig? [laughter] Kung ayaw ninyo umuwi na lang tayo. [laughter]

It’s Malacañan Palace, Manila. Pardon of Punishment. In observance of the time honored tradition of the Philippine Military Academy, and on the occasion of the graduating class of PMA Salaknib Class 2017, I, yours truly, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines hereby pardon all your outstanding punishment to the cadet corps Armed Forces of the Philippines as recommended by the Superintendent PMA effective today. [applause]

Pirmahan ko na? Bukas na lang siguro ‘no. [laughter] Okay, bawi ‘yon bawi.

Just be true to your oath of office. Do not pledge loyalty to a person, a human being. It’s always to the flag and to the Constitution. Iyan ang advice ko sa inyo.

Never propagate or nurture loyalty to a government worker who is also like you. We are on the same boat, we work for the Filipinos. And I sign. [applause]

Wala na ‘yan ha. Okay na? Iyong may mga atraso. Maligaya kayo ‘no? Maligaya kayo o hindi? O lagi, daghan mang sala. [applause]