Marcos: PMA Class of 2023 joining modern armed forces
FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines — The “Madasigon” Class of 2023 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is joining “a modern and professional organization which is more effective and a more formidable vehicle for nation building,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Sunday at the PMA graduation rites here, adding that he was taking steps to improve “social protection” for all uniformed officers.
“Last week, I signed into law the amendments to Republic Act No. 11709 [which sets fixed terms for military officials] to strengthen the professionalization and merit system of our armed forces,” he told the 310 graduates who later received their commissions as junior officers from him.
Marcos said the government would also continue to implement the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program “through important military acquisitions and upgrades,” as he noted that “existing realities and the rapidly evolving security environment impel us to always be prepared for any and all threats that our country may face.”
“Purveyors of criminality, insurgency and terrorism are the great interlopers in our peaceable aspirations, as any actions that undermine peace, stability, and prosperity in our sovereign domain and its environs,” he added.
Madasigon, which stands for “Mandirigmang May Dangal, Simbolo ng Galing at Pagbangon” (Honorable Soldiers, Symbols of Greatness and Resilience), counts among its members Darwin Dormitorio, the plebe who died in 2019 from hazing injuries, and Fourth Class Cadet Mario Telan, who drowned at a swimming class also that year.
Emerging from lockdown
In his valedictory address, Air Force 2nd Lt. Warren Leonor said Dormitorio and Telan would forever be members of the class.
Marcos had described Madasigon as the “class na walang uwian (the class that couldn’t go home),” an apparent reference to Leonor’s tale of how they endured being in quarantine for three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Madasigon members were isolated “toward the end of our first year of training… as if losing classmates was not enough to break us,” Leonor said. The PMA lifted its lockdown in March last year.
In an interview with reporters, Leonor’s parents, Joel and Angelina, said the family was proud of their son’s achievements.
Joel, a retired Air Force sergeant, said his son’s feat brought honor to their family which he hoped would inspire others also aspiring to join the AFP.
Lt. Gen. Rowen Tolentino, PMA superintendent, said 158 of the graduates would join the Army, 75 would go to the Air Force, and 77 would sign up with the Navy.
Five of Madasigon’s top 10 cadets are women, who count among the 72 in the class.
Tolentino said 59 percent of the class had completed high school with honors when they passed the PMA entrance examination.
According to him, the cadets “came from very diverse backgrounds” as some of their parents were farmers, tricycle drivers, street vendors, construction workers, teachers, and active and retired uniformed personnel.
Tolentino said 34 percent of them grew up in low-income households, while 22 percent came from middle-class families and only 6 percent from well-to-do families.
Vice President Sara Duterte did not attend the graduation ceremony, where she was supposed to award the Vice Presidential Saber to Army 2nd Lt. Edmundo Logronio, who ranked second overall.
But 9-year-old Jedidiah Suntay, a great-great-great-grandson of the country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, turned up to hand over the prestigious Aguinaldo Saber to Logronio.
As in past PMA graduations, 2nd Lt. Hans Bernard Roldan, the class goat or the cadet with the lowest class ranking, received a standing ovation from the audience.