By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday reminded the alumni of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to avoid actions that may taint the image and reputation of the state military school.
Duterte made the call as he cautioned that a wrong move by a “scalawag” PMA graduate can totally change the public perception about the academy’s good image.
“The image of both the Philippine Military Academy and the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. is only as good as the image that each one of you projects to the public,” Duterte said during the annual general membership meeting of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. (PMAAAI) in Pasay City.
“One scalawag among you can destroy or dent the image and reputation of every PMAer, your Alma Mater and your association included. It takes only one fly to spoil a feast. It takes only one scandal to ruin your avowed moral and ethical standards,” he added.
During the event organized by the PMAAAI, the Commander-in-Chief also witnessed the conferment of Outstanding Achievement Award on eight prominent personalities.
Awardees include Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., former AFP chief, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, Philippine Army chief, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Philippine Air Force chief, Maj. Gen. Allen Paredes, and former Philippine ambassador to Australia Ernesto de Leon Jr.
De Leon belongs to PMA “Masigasig” Class of 1972; Wong to PMA “Makabayan” Class of 1975; Clement to PMA “Sandiwa” Class of 1985; Dela Rosa, Santos, Gamboa, and Gapay to PMA “Sinagtala” Class of 1986; and, Paredes to PMA “Maringal” Class of 1988.
Duterte acknowledged that the word “mistah,” widely used by PMA graduates, should be tantamount to “honor, discipline, competence and loyalty,” the values that “make for a soldier and a gentleman.”
“Those who passed through the storied halls and hallowed grounds of the Philippine Military Academy share a common bond, the depth and sense of which cannot be fully understood by those who have not lived in its quarters, marched in its drill sites and undergone the traditional rites of manhood. That bond can only be expressed in one word: ‘mistah,’” he said.
“There is much mystique hidden in that word. It is more than friendship. It is more than camaraderie. It is a feeling and a sense of pride that only a PMA graduate can fully comprehend and appreciate,” the President added.
Keep track of PMA alumnus
Even after PMA graduates reached the mandatory retirement, there is a need to continue the monitoring of their activities, Duterte said.
The President said he acknowledges that the career of a PMA graduate does not end when he retires from military service.
A military man’s duty to country and people “never ends,” which means that his retirement from military service simply means that his life has entered a “second phase” which can be “more consuming and demanding than the first,” Duterte noted.
“Whether or not that second phase caters to tasks and functions aligned with public governance or to purely private matters, is not the point though. What matters is that the wealth of talent, expertise and experience that every [PMA] alumnus commands, is not wasted but kept in reserve for the nation’s beneficial use at the proper time,” he said.
“Prudence dictates that you keep track of your members’ whereabouts, their career changes and their activities that impact on public service and public welfare. Make use of your moral ascendancy. Police your own ranks. You owe it to the academy that nourished you. Indeed, there is much you can do to help this country,” the President added.
He said there is a need to check on PMA alumni who decide to join the public service after retirement, as he raised the possibility that they might commit abuses.
He said there is a “reason to fear and a cause to forebode,” as some retired military men might be blinded by power.
“That pride, if uncontrolled, can easily degenerate into arrogance. And from there, the path to abuse opens. And after that, only God knows [what],” Duterte said.
“That is what you should guard against. That is what you should not allow to happen. I am confident though that steps shall be taken by you, if you have not done so yet, to address this worry,” he added. (PNA)