The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday paid tribute to outgoing Commander-in-Chief and President Benigno S. Aquino III during a testimonial parade and review held in his honor at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Led by Acting Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, the AFP expressed its gratitude to President Aquino for his leadership and for supporting the implementation of the modernization program that improved the capability of the military.]
Also present were service commanders Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año of the Philippine Army, Vice Admiral Cesar Taccad of the Philippine Navy, Lt. Gen. Edgar Faliorina of the Philippine Air Force, and former chiefs of staff, officers and non-commissioned personnel of the AFP.
In his speech, President Aquino thanked the AFP for its dedication to ensure the safety of the Filipino people.
“Dahil sa ambag ng bawat isa sa inyo, nakatatak na ngayon sa sambayanang Pilipino ang unipormadong hanay na talagang masasandalan at maasahan, lalo na sa mga panahon ng pangangailangan. Sa araw-araw na ginawa ng Diyos, ipinapamalas ninyo ang diwa at tunay na ibig-sabihin ng salitang ‘dedikasyon’,” he said.
“Gaano man kahirap ang tungkulin, anumang kagamitan ang hawak ninyo, ni minsan, hindi ako nakarinig sa inyo ng palusot o pagdadahilan. Bagkus, lagi ninyo itong taas-noong hinaharap, at isinasagad ang inyong kakayahan para magampanan ang trabaho. Kaya naman po, sa ngalan ng bawat kababayan nating naisalba, natulungan, o napanatag ninyo ang loob: Maraming, maraming salamat.”
President Aquino said the government spent P65.89 billion for the AFP’s Modernization Program.
“Sa tamang pamamahala, at tamang paglalaan ng pondo, naging makasaysayan ang modernisasyon ninyo. ‘Yung ilang mga dating pinapangarap lang natin, tangan na natin ngayon. Ang maganda pa: Hindi lang kayo tumatanggap ng biyaya mula sa estado; sinusuklian ninyo ito ng karampatang serbisyo. Sa huli, naging virtuous cycle ito; nagtutulungan ang lahat, at sa dulo, Pilipino ang panalo,” he said.
“Kung meron man akong iiwanang habilin sa inyo, ito ay huwag niyo sanang kalilimutan ang laging itinatanong natin sa tuwing nalalagay tayo sa isang sangandaan: Paano ito nakakatulong sa sambayanang Pilipino? Kapag nasagot ninyo dito ay oo, malamang po, nasa tama kayo,” he added.
“Harinawa ay manatiling kaisa ng sambayanan ang ating Sandatahang Lakas. Tiwala ako: Sa patnubay ng Poong Maykapal, sa ating patuloy na pagtotoo sa ating mga Boss, at sa matibay nating paninindigan sa ating bandila, ay makapag-iiwan tayo sa susunod na henerasyon ng mas ligtas, mas matatag, at mas maunlad na Pilipinas,” the President further said.
During the ceremony, President Aquino was presented the AFP Coat of Arms plaque and the Presidential Saber.
President Aquino also handed out the Presidential Legion of Honor awards to Lt. Gen. Miranda (with rank of commander) for his service as AFP Acting Chief of Staff, and Presidential Security Group (PSG) head Rear Admiral Raul Ubando (with the rank of officer) for his service during the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
Rear Admiral Ubando also received the Presidential Medal of Merit as former Senior Military Assistant (SMA) to President Aquino and as PSG commander.
The other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Merit were Brig. Gen. Jose Caparas (SMA to the President); Lt. Col. Justino Ramolete, Maj. James Erasmus, and Lt. Bryner Las (Junior Military Aide de Camp to the President); and Maj. Xavier Celestial for composing the Presidential March.
The Presidential Unit Streamer with Ribbon was presented to the 32nd Infantry Batallion (32IB), 1st Infantry Division (1ID) of the Philippine Army for extraordinary accomplishment during the siege by rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front in September 2013 in Zamboanga City. The award was received by TLC Ramon Flores, commander of the 32IB, 1ID.
The President was assisted by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin during the presentation of awards. PND (jm)