Aquino tells PMA graduates: Put country's interest above self-A A +A
Sunday, March 17, 2013
BAGUIO CITY -- President Benigno Aquino III urged the 124 graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Sunday to always put the welfare of Filipinos above self.
"The work of the entire Filipino people brought you to today's triumph; it is my hope that your every action from here on is dedicated to this same people -- because, after all, is it not true that all problems arise from those who think only of themselves and of their own interests?" the President said in his speech during the PMA commencement exercises at Fort Gregorio H. Del Pilar, in this city.
He also encouraged the new members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to buckle down for work as their four-year "vacation" at the academy is done. "Today, you begin to put what you learned into practice," he said.
As the next leaders of the AFP, Aquino told PMA graduates to bear on their shoulders a grave responsibility.
"And as someone who is a little bit older than you, perhaps, this is the lesson I can impart: whenever you face a dilemma, you need only put yourselves in the shoes of those that will be the most affected, the most abused, the poorest, those who are in most need of your protection -- and I can promise you, what is right and what is wrong will become clearer," he said.
"They who are in the margins of society, they who are our Bosses, the Filipino people -- they are the ones who will set the direction we must take; so long as we always keep their well-being in mind, we will never stray," he added.
The President also mentioned the armed crisis in the Malaysia-controlled Sabah that has claimed the life of over 60 people, mostly Filipino nationals who are followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
"Did its masterminds consider how their actions would affect the majority? We have an estimated 800,000 Filipinos quietly living and working in Sabah; what if they were suddenly turned away by the neighbors with whom we have painstakingly cultivated peace and trust? We already know how complicated this issue is: could any Malaysian Prime Minister so easily agree to let go of a land that, for so long, has been subject to their laws? Is there a Philippine President who would, without a second thought, give up our claim? I ask you to consider my position: whether or not the claims of those who went to Sabah are legitimate, how does one weigh actions against the lives and livelihoods that are put in danger, should an outright conflict begin?" the President asked.
"We all know that for every action, there is a resultant reaction, and that there are problems that cannot be solved hastily -- problems that will only beget more problems if we try to solve them through force or recklessness. What is needed here: a careful and truthful evaluation of the facts, and a subsequent negotiation along those lines, to produce the right solution," he said.
The President earlier said that they are gathering evidence against the conspirators who supported the claim of Kiram's followers in Sabah by providing funds for their cause.
"It is clear: whoever was behind this only thought of themselves and of their own interests, disregarding those of their fellow men. And even if we believe that those who went to Sabah only wanted to stand up for what they believe in—wouldn't it have been better for everyone involved if they did so through calm and reasonable discourse, in accordance with the law and the appropriate processes?" Aquino said.
Aquino also compared the ongoing crisis in Sabah to the peaceful resolution over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, had filed a case before the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea against China over its excessive territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea.
"Forbearance and reason are not equivalent to cowardice -- on the contrary, these are the measures of true courage and resolve, because through these we are able to consider the well-being of not only those living in the here and now, but especially those in the years to come," Aquino said.
"This is among the crossroads that you will face as soldiers. Will you allow emotions to cloud your judgment, or will you face challenges with calm? Will you take shortcuts to complete your work, or will you weigh carefully the effects that your actions and decisions will have on those that follow you?" the President added.
Aquino, meanwhile, congratulated the members of the "Pudang-Kalis" class.
Pudang-Kalis stands for Puso't Dangal ng mga Kawal ng Lahing Nagkakaisa or Soldiers with Heart and Honor, Unified in Strength. It was derived from a Muslim term which means "sacred sword" passed on from one generation to another.
Of the graduates, 67 will be deployed in the Army, 24 in Air Force, and 33 in the Navy. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)