Lorenzana to PMA grads: Stay alive
FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The problems faced by cadets, who were immediately assigned to fight secessionists in Mindanao and communist rebels in the 1970s, are still the same confronting members of the “Mabalasik” Class of 2019 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) who will graduate on Sunday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said here on Saturday.
So Lorenzana’s advice to them during a pregraduation ceremony here was: “Please stay alive.”
Mabalasik is an acronym for “Mandirigma ng Bayan, Iaalay ang Sarili, Lakas at Tapang, Para sa Kapayapaan.”
Lorenzana said the cadets, who will be commissioned as junior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will be better equipped than when he graduated from PMA in 1973.
He said his 1973 class composed of 61 members lost its first “mistah” (classmate), Jan Vincent Muyargas, within six months after they were sent to Mindanao to face the war triggered by the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
More complex issues
But Mabalasik class has more complex issues to deal with such as the West Philippine Sea dispute, terrorism and climate change, Lorenzana said.
“All of us were sent to Mindanao as platoon leaders—even those assigned to the Air Force. Classmates who became members of the then Constabulary joined the [Philippine Constabulary] battalion there. The Navy joined the Marines,” he said.
“Earlier [in 1973], we almost lost Cotabato City to the MNLF had government troopers rallied under the late Gen. Fortunato Abat of PMA Class of 1951,” he said.
“Unfortunately, some of the challenges we faced before are still there… They remain and you will be facing them whether you are in the Army, Navy or Air Force,” he said, adding: “There are more challenges and these are more complicated.”
“The communist insurgency is still with us after 50 years. A lot of you in the Army will be facing the New People’s Army. Luckily, the secessionist problem in Mindanao is moving forward to its final resolution with the enactment of the law creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” he said.
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