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Much-improved AFP awaits new officers

NEW SOLDIERS Philippine Military Academy cadets toss their shakos in the air after their graduation. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

NEW SOLDIERS Philippine Military Academy cadets toss their shakos in the air after their graduation. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—New graduates of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) are fortunate they are entering a much-improved Armed Forces of the Philippines, thanks to efforts to improve soldiers’ welfare and their capacity to protect the country, President Aquino said on Sunday.

Addressing 63 graduates of PMA “Gabay Laya” Class of 2016, Mr. Aquino said 68 “big-ticket projects” worth P58.43 billion had been completed in the almost six years of his term.

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He said his administration had also put up 61,378 housing units for soldiers and policemen, livelihood programs for retirees at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province and increased the soldiers’ monthly hazard pay.

It was the last time that Mr. Aquino as Commander in Chief graced the PMA graduation where he also commissioned the new graduates as AFP officers.

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The President said he had very poor impressions about the state of the military when he assumed his post as Commander in Chief in 2010 because some soldiers used “fast-food merchandising” as backups during sensitive operations.

He said soldiers had to “adapt and overcome” these logistical challenges.

“To be frank with you, the price for the equipment we provide the soldiers is nothing to joke about,” he said.

He said a secondhand C-130 cargo plane cost up to $40 million (P1.8 billion), which, he noted, was “equivalent to the cost of building 109 school buildings.”

Mr. Aquino said governance involved establishing a balance between what the military requires and what other sectors need.

“Let us remember that more than 20 percent of our population was impoverished when I started my administration. But by ensuring good governance, we can say that every sector was assisted. No one was left behind,” he said.

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TAGS: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Nation, news, Philippine Military Academy
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