Friday, May 15, 2020

No parents, guests at PMA graduation on May 22

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 15, 2020): No parents, guests at PMA graduation on May 22 (By: Kimberlie Quitasol)

The commencement exercises for the graduating Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Masidlawin” Class of 2020 have been set for May 22, but parents and guests will not be allowed to attend to spare cadets from being infected with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), officials said on Thursday.

President Duterte has not indicated whether he will attend the exercises, a task all presidents undertake because the commander in chief must commission the new graduates into junior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The ceremony will be live-streamed on the PMA’s official Facebook page, said Navy Capt. Cheryl Tindog, the academy spokesperson.

Details about the top 10 cadets will be released at a virtual news conference on May 20.

The PMA had enacted health protocols as early as February and was locked down in March when Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine.

SOLDIERS OF THE PEOPLE In this 2019 photo, graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City stand in the rain as they wait for their commencement rites to end. The PMA has decided to livestream the graduation ceremony this year while health and quarantine restrictions are in place. —EV ESPIRITU
Online instructions

Subsequent activities have been restricted to teachers and personnel inside Fort del Pilar while cadets continued with their academic and military training, Tindog said.

Due to the social distancing rule, some cadets took instructions online from their barracks. They also wore masks during training.

Tindog said that while many events that required a big gathering were canceled, graduation would proceed because the military “needs more warm bodies on the field.”

“Even during the pandemic, the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf are still active,” she added.

But social distancing and the mandatory wearing of masks will be followed during the graduation rites. “There won’t be any shaking of hands, no ‘beso-beso’ (kissing on the cheeks),” Tindog said.

“We have sent invitations [to Mr. Duterte and other dignitaries], but we are still waiting for their response. We hope they could come, but we would understand if they would not be able to because they have a more urgent pandemic to respond to,” she said.

The only time the PMA had to cancel its graduation was during World War II. According to the PMA yearbook, Academy Scribe, Class of 1941 was unable to complete four years of training when the Japanese Imperial Army bombed Camp John Hay after attacking Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8, 1941.

“The members of Class of 1942 stand as the only class which was not able to experience the joy of graduation,” the Scribe said. PMA alumni referred to this group as “the class to remember.”

Members of Classes 1942 and 1943 were commissioned and their ranks accelerated to third lieutenants to face the invading Japanese.

According to the Scribe, “the rites were unimpressive and simple but full of meaning.”

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