Aquino skips Mamasapano debacle in PMA grad rites, focuses on gov’t accomplishments
FORT DEL PILAR, Philippines — The Mamasapano controversy was not in President Benigno Aquino III’s speech before the graduating members of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinaglahi” Class of 2015 here on Sunday.
Except for resigned Director General Alan Purisima, only acting Philippine National Police chief, Deputy Director-General Leonardo Espina Jr., and Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. — who were key players in the controversy over the botched secret mission that killed 44 Special Action Force commandos — were present at the ceremony.
A PNP board of inquiry has concluded that the President, Purisima and the military share blame for mishandling the Mamasapano operation.
Instead of confronting this issue, Aquino discussed his administration’s “level-headed and rational decision-making,” in addressing the challenges plaguing the government.
He cited the tension between North and South Korea in 2010, which affected 50,000 Filipinos, the need to move Filipinos in the Middle East away from areas of danger and unrest, as well as efforts to insulate the Philippines from the spread of diseases such as Ebola and MERS-CoV.
It was Sinaglahi class valedictorian, 2nd Lt. Arwi Martinez of Baguio City, who addressed the specter of conflict by speaking out against war.
In his valedictory address, Martinez said not all problems should be addressed with a military solution.
“This is an appropriate time for the Filipino people to remember those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Our interest in pursuing freedom in our country does not necessarily entail that every problem has a military solution,” he said.
Martinez continued: “History would remind us the most costly mistake of strategy came not from restraint but from the willingness to rush into military action without thinking about the immediate and long term consequences of waging war.”
In his speech, the President addressed the import of war by citing the heroism of 2nd Lt. Jerson Sanchez, a member of the PMA “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014, who was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Star for leading a small unit against 30 communist rebels and succeeding, during an operation in Sarangani province.
“We do not expect newcomers to become experts immediately, which is why Lt. Sanchez is impressive. Not even a year after graduating, he has truly shown great inherent strength and skill in fulfilling his duties.”
“Let me emphasize: 2nd Lt. Sanchez is a new soldier, not even a member yet of an elite unit. Yet, in his short time in service, he has already shown extraordinary courage and effective leadership,” he said.
Aquino also said progress would ensure that less sacrifices would be necessary as he cited the growth of the country.
“Perhaps this is how destiny [works]: As our country develops, the sacrifices required of its citizens should lessen,” he said.
“To all those who continue to ask who will continue the good work we have started, I respond: None other than a united Filipino people, all of whom show each other care and compassion. It is clear to all of us: Only those playing deaf and blind are those who have not felt the massive transformation our country is experiencing,” he said.
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