‘BAGSIK DIWA’. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte salutes past the color guard while onboard the command car in the trooping the line ceremony during the Philippine Military Academy commencement exercises at the Fajardo Grandstand, Borromeo Field in Fort Gen. Gregorio H. del Pilar, Baguio City on Sunday (May 15, 2022). Duterte called on new PMA graduates to “be both a warrior and peacemaker” while ensuring they always remained true to their oath. (Presidential photo by Rey Baniquet)

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday called on new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to “be many things at the same time” while ensuring they always remained true to their oath.

Speaking during the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "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 PMA graduates at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.

He said the academy has sufficiently prepared the 214 PMA 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 he will be stepping down as president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by June while cadets will only be starting their responsibility to uphold, protect and secure people’s rights, lives, and properties.

He lamented that society’s ills such as “corruption, red tape, illegal drugs, and crime and criminalities” still hound the nation today.

Despite this, Duterte said he 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.

He described the PMA graduates as “the best that the youth of this land can offer”, noting that having marched on the academy’s grounds is a testament to that truth.

“In every country’s history, every generation has a role to play and a mission to fulfil. The challenge has been said. To the members of Bagsik Diwa Class, we await your response,” he added.

House and lot, pistol

Meanwhile, Duterte awarded a house and lot to Cadet First Class Krystlenn Ivany Quemado who topped 214 mistahs of the "Bagsik Diwa" Class of 2022.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presents the Presidential Saber award to Class Valedictorian Cadet 1CL Krystlenn Ivany G. Quemado during the Philippine Military Academy commencement exercises at the Fajardo Grandstand, Borromeo Field in Fort Gen. Gregorio H. del Pilar, Baguio City on Sunday (May 15, 2022). Quemado also received house and lot for topping 214 mistahs of the "Bagsik Diwa" Class of 2022.  (Presidential photo by Rey Baniquet)

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, who is joining the Philippine Navy, is the seventh woman to top a PMA class since it began accepting female cadets in 1993.

Duterte awarded the class "goat" or 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.

He also pardoned the punishments and demerits of the PMA graduates.

“I, as Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces of the Philippines hereby pardon all outstanding punishments of the underclassmen – second class, third class, fourth class of the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines as recommended by the Superintendent PMA effective today,” he said.

This is the PMA's first in-person commencement exercises since the pandemic broke out and will include cadets’ parents, relatives, and dignitaries as guests. (PNA)