Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB), Laguna commended the troops of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (ID) for their response to the pandemic and for their readiness in times of crisis.
In his speech during the graduation ceremony of 179 new soldiers in Tanay, Rizal, on Monday, Sanchez expressed his gratitude to the soldiers whom he said were “instrumental in our effort to reunite our stranded students with their families when ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] was implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19.”
The chancellor of UPLB cited the parallelism in the missions of the UPLB and the Philippine Army and emphasized that “the loyalty of the soldiers must be to the people whose safety and interest we are both mandated to uphold.”
“As new soldiers of the nation, you represent the next generation of the Army as an institution, which is an important pillar in safeguarding democracy in the Philippines,” he told the new soldiers, while urging them to “study and engage with the complex and interrelated issues of Philippine society.”
“Your training has well-equipped you with the knowledge and skills that you need to perform your duties with honor, excellence and compassion,” he stressed.
The highlight of the graduation ceremony was the “Symbolic Entrustment of Firearms,” which, according to the military, signifies the people’s trust to the soldiers’ readiness and ability to accomplish their mission “to serve the people and secure the Filipinos’ homeland.”
Lt. Col. Jose del Rosario, commandant of the 2nd Division Training School, said that the training went as scheduled despite the pandemic, “because we cannot afford to put the security of our people on hold,” while explaining that “adjustments and innovations were introduced to make sure that the school complied with health protocols without sacrificing the quality of our new soldiers.”
“After 18 weeks, 179 men emerged from the 190 boys who volunteered to serve our country and people through the noble profession of arms,” del Rosario said.
The batch received an excellent rating of 95 percent from the Philippine Army’s Quality Assurance Team which evaluated their core competencies on marksmanship and land navigation.
The 2nd Division Training School was adjudged as the best Army training school across the country in 2019.
Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 2nd ID, said the advent of Covid-19 allowed them to develop a new breed of soldiers who are “more exposed, aware and in touch with the realities of the world outside the confines of their training grounds since they were not only trained on basic military knowledge, but also, they had the privilege of having an up-close and personal training as well as practical exercises on the values of compassion and selflessness after they were tasked to manufacture thousands of face masks for our medical frontliners.”
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old former child warrior of the New People’s Army (NPA), who recently surrendered to the military, led soldiers to an arms cache in Antipolo City on Monday.
The information given by the female NPA minor, whom the military identified only as alias Ana, led to the recovery of three high-powered firearms.
Lt. Col. Rimrad Feraer, commander of the 80th Infantry Battalion, which operates in Rizal province, said his troops recovered one M-653 rifle, an M-16 rifle and an M-14 rifle with magazines and plenty of ammunition.
The former NPA fighter, together with a certain Alvin Molina alias Jack, surrendered to government forces on Wednesday following local peace negotiations in Rizal.
The two are Dumagats and were former members of the NPA’s Platoon 4A4 under Guerilla Front Cesar.