An appropriate and timely message
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-03-10
The message of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) to this year’s Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduating class, which was delivered last Sunday, was most appropriate and timely. P-Noy delved heavily on values in the light of the corruption scandals currently hounding the military.

P-Noy focused the PMA graduating class to their noble mission as they now will serve as lieutenants or ensigns of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). Translated into English, P-Noy said: “Now that you’re ready to leave the confines of Fort del Pilar, you should be aware of the truth that you’ll face challenges that you’ll only be encountering now: corruption, lack of justice and poverty. You will respond to these challenges in the most remote and impoverished areas where you will serve as the only face of the government. The people will rely on you not just to protect them but also to save them from poverty.”

Speaking in Filipino, now translated into English, P-Noy added: You will also meet scheming politicians who will attempt to blind you with gold and silver and offer you power in order to entice you to veer from the straight path. You’ll also fight battles where your only arms will be your conscience. This is no longer a quiz. The training is over. In the real world, the contest isn’t confined to attaining the highest grade. Your career isn’t measured by rank or the number of medals. Outside of this camp and in the eyes of the Filipino people —faithfulness, care for your fellow man and courage — these will be the yardsticks of your greatness.”

P-Noy reminded the PMA graduates that the Presidential Saber which he bestowed on class valedictorian, Cadet First Class Angelo Edward B. Parras, is symbolic of their Commander-in-Chief who is a civilian. He stressed that the power of the military emanates from their real Boss — the people.

P-Noy brought the raging AFP corruption issues to the discussion. He said: “Before, the system promoted stealing left and right because nobody was ever made to account and punished. It seems that deliberate and voluntary silence, blindness and deafness became vogue. That’s why those whom the law should be chasing have been coming and going from foreign trips.”

P-Noy pledged: “Now, we will correct the wrong, and straighten the crooked ways. The crooks will be made to account along with their facilitators. We will not tolerate any wrongdoing; we will not hold anyone as a sacred cow.” This was met by a big applause.

P-Noy invoked the new young officers to save their institution. He said: “We have a mandate to fulfill. We cannot allow justice to be violated by the misdeeds of anyone. I know that despite those among your ranks who have been involved in these recent issues, your faithfulness to flag and people will prevail. Don’t allow the few among you to stain your noble institution.”

P-Noy highlighted the early fruits of the reforms that his administration had already reaped for the military. He mentioned that from savings and prudent fiscal policies, his administration is now able to do in only eight months what could not be done in the last 10 years. The P-Noy administration is building 20,000 homes for the military and police personnel.

“Remember this day. Always ask yourself why we’re facing each other today. You are facing me today because you opted to serve our country. You’re here not to become rich. That is why I am hoping that when somebody dumps in front of you a truck load of money — you will have the strength to refuse this because what stands out in you are the principles that have been inculcated by the PMA: courage in any struggle, integrity above the most staggering temptation and faithfulness to the flag. We have an obligation to do and we took an oath. Let’s practice these virtues with nobility and let’s bequeath a peaceful and golden tomorrow to our next generation.” P-Noy added.

P-Noy reminded the young PMA graduates that their fort is named after our youth hero, Gregorio del Pilar, and that they should always keep him in mind as a source of inspiration. “In the coming days, if ever you’re in doubt, just ask yourselves this question: Are you the followers of Gregorio del Pilar whom the nation looks up to, or will you imitate those who were stricken with amnesia? P-Noy challenged the new PMA graduates.

“I will repeat, you will not be praised or scorned only because of the schemes of others but because of something you did,” PNoy emphasized.

We should hope that P-Noy’s message about values during the PMA graduation fell on fertile ground. We should also hope that the new PMA graduates who are now set to occupy their initial ranks of lieutenant or ensign will nurture these values that they were reminded of by their Commander-in-Chief on graduation day.

For our country to really reform, all Filipinos must rethink their values. We worship too many golden idols. We have learned to compromise many of our noblest ideals for convenience or gain. Our country’s pathetic state reflects our values today.

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