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Fighting to win peace continues in Mindanao


Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City - President Benigno Aquino III still envisions “a continued fight for peace” in Mindanao, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said during the 113th Foundation Day of the Phil. Military Academy Saturday.

This as Malacanang urged government troops and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets to go on with “the fight for peace” as a fitting tribute to soldiers, two of whom were alumni of the PMA, who died recently in an encounter in Basilan.

Conveying President Aquino III’s deepest condolences to the fallen soldiers, Ochoa pledged that the Aquino III administration to properly equip, arm and train soldiers and future fighters so that their sacrifices in service to the country will not be in vain.

“I know many of you knew the two brave heroes who gave their lives in Basilan, and it is only right that we mourn those who have passed on,” Ochoa, said referring to 2nd Lt. Jose Delfin Keh and 1st Lt. Valdimir Maninang, who along with members of the Army’s Special Forces, died after a nine-hour clash with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Al-Barka, Basilan.

Sec. Ochoa further added, “we should also remember that there is no greater tribute to our brave heroes than by fighting for what they themselves fought for: to win the peace. Peace with principle, peace with honor, peace without sacrificing our sovereignty.”

Government’s goal, Ochoa said, has always been peace “because history has taught us no country has ever benefitted from long drawn-out internal conflicts.”

Amidst the tragic death of the soldiers, the real challenge remained. “[I]t is to honor their memory by being true to the values they lived and died for: courage, integrity and loyalty—the three words that all PMA cadets and alumni live by,” Ochoa said.

*“PMA Heroes”
Pres. Aquino III through Sec. Ochoa hailed the graduates from the PMA and those who enlist into the military for their sacrifices to ensure the security and safety of the people.

Despite the risks many young Filipinos aspire to enter the PMA and serve the nation, Ochoa acknowledged.
Over 7,000 officers, including 45 graduates from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and the United States are graduates of the PMA.
This year, 16,000 dreamt to become cadets at the Academy but only over 6,000 were allowed to take the entrance exams. Only 1,120 passed, while still only 200 will be accepted to begin their four-year travail at Asia’s premier military officer training institution in April 2012.
*“A Modern Military In 2025”
Ochoa said Pres. Aquino III recognizes the valuable role of the academy in the government’s efforts to ensure security, justice and peace in our country,” as he is committed to implement reforms “to build the capability of our military as well as uplift the welfare of our men and women in uniform.”
Ochoa cited the proposed legislation to extend the AFP Modernization Act until 2025, which calls for the acquisition of Air Force, Navy and Army equipment and material, to boost the capability of the Armed Forces to repel threats within and outside the Philippines borders.

Such measure also authorizes the Department of National Defense and the AFP to sell, lease and forge joint venture agreements involving defense real properties, and to enter into public-private partnerships to raise the funding requirements for the military modernization program.

“In short, your government wants to put all of you—those who are now in our Armed Forces and those of you who will soon join them—in a position to successfully fulfill your duties and responsibilities to flag and country,” said Ochoa, who also chairs the Cabinet cluster on security, justice and peace.
For the PMA, Ochoa said, “several projects and programs are in now in various stages of implementation to keep in step with the demands of the times, which require, among others, the academy to prepare its graduates for the tasks of the modern soldier.”

“The dramatic change in character and conduct of warfare and the rise of terrorism as a serious global threat only underscore the need for officers and troops to develop a world view that will enable them comprehend the nuances of the law, statecraft, diplomacy and intelligence,” he said.

But Ochoa reminded PMA cadets “aside from addressing the issues concerning modern combat, the academy must also prepare its graduates for duties that do not involve warfare.” He enumerated disaster response operations and mitigation, which require an understanding of the adverse impact of the weather phenomena on logistics and planning involved in mass evacuation scenarios and rescue operations, mobilization and resource management, and public and community relations.

By Artemio A. Dumlao

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