General Felimon Santos Jr., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), spearheaded the incorporation of 356 fourth class cadets (first year) of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City on Sunday.
The incorporation of the first-year cadets signifies their acceptance to the Cadet Corps of the AFP after weeks of cadet battalion training. They will now compose the PMA Class of 2024.
In photos shared by the PMA to the media, it was observed that the traditional incorporation was different compared to how it was done in the previous years.
Family members, relatives and friends of the cadets were not allowed to attend since only top military officials were present during the activity as part of the academy’s safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Vice Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi, PMA Superintendent, challenged the cadets to continue to persevere amid the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now, you [are] officially incorporated as true members of the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines. May you continue to strive with the training and life in the academy,” he said.
Cusi also commended the cadets, as well as their training directorate for hurdling the new cadet battalion training which was implemented due to the pandemic.
Among the changes in the training was the isolation of the entire first years to the rest of the Cadet Corps upon their entry to the Academy almost two months ago. Reforms were also made in the academy’s training and education systems.
Meanwhile, Santos urged the upperclass cadets to lead the plebes “with moral uprightness guided by the sacred ideal of ‘Courage, Integrity and Loyalty,'” referring to the core values of the PMA.
He reminded the seniors to lead “in the true meaning and spirit of the Honor Code and set the best examples” to the lower rank cadets “at all times.”
The PMA was rocked by various controversies in the past year, perhaps most sensational of which was the hazing death of first-year cadet Darwin Dormitorio on September 18, 2019.
Cusi, for his part, assured the parents of the plebes that the academy will “do its very best to give our cadets the best training and education to develop them into the kind of future leaders our country deserves.”
The Cadet Corps AFP also rendered a testimonial parade and review for Santos in recognition of his more than 38 years of military service.
Santos is set to retire on August 4 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 for military personnel.