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Duterte arrives two hours late for PMA graduation

Rodrigo Duterte at PMA Class of 2019 graduation

President Rodrigo Duterte congratulates Cadet First Class Dionne Mae Umalla, valedictorian of the Philippine Military Academy’s Class of 2019, as he hands over her diploma during Sunday’s graduation ceremony at Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City. Umalla was commissioned ensign in the Philippine Navy. (Photo by EV Espiritu / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Updated @ 11:21 p.m., May 26, 2019, to replace photo and details

FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday arrived more than two hours late, delaying the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2019 that was scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

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The cadets went into formation at 8:30 a.m. at Borromeo Field and did squad drills while waiting for the President. They stopped when the presidential motorcade finally arrived at 10:55 a.m.

The President begged off from the traditional arrival honors, which would have required him to march from the PMA sundial to the grandstand — a distance of 100 meters.

The graduation ceremony proceeded as soon as the President took his seat alongside Vice President Leni Robredo and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

No explanation

No official explanation was given by the PMA or Malacañang for the delay.

Many PMA officials appeared concerned when a seemingly wobbly President almost fell while boarding a military jeep, called the “white carabao,” for the traditional trooping-the-line ceremony.

Members of the Presidential Security Group were seen helping push the President onto the vehicle.

When the President stood up to hand out diplomas, he sat back again after giving the diploma to newly commissioned Navy Ensign Dionne Mae Umalla, the class valedictorian.

As commander-in-chief, the President is tasked with handing out the diplomas. Lorenzana took over the task.

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The President stood up again to acknowledge the class “goat,” Danmark Solomon.

“Secretary Lorenzana is the next in rank, so he took on the task [but] we do not know why,” said Maj. Reynan Afan, PMA spokesperson.

(Editor: Cenon B. Bibe Jr.)

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TAGS: Mabalasik, news, PMA, PMA Class of 2019, Rodrigo Duterte
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