UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez Jr., (left) hands over a firearm to the newly-grad privates during the Symbolic Entrustment of Firearms at the graduation rites of the 179 new soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division on Monday, 29 June 2020.

CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) commended the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division for their readiness in times of crisis.

In a speech given during the graduation ceremony of 179 new soldiers here on June 29, Monday, Dr. Sanchez expressed his gratitude to the soldiers who were “instrumental in our effort to reunite our stranded students with their families when ECQ was implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

He highlighted in his speech the parallelism in the missions of 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.”

He addressed the new soldiers by saying that “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” while urging them to “study and engage with the complex and interrelated issues of Philippine society.”

He ended his statement by expressing his confidence that “your training has well-equipped you with the knowledge and skills that you need to perform your duties with honor, excellence and compassion.”

Secure the homeland

The activity’s highlight 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.

Lieutenant Colonel Jose DR 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 original list of 190 who volunteered to serve our country and people through the noble profession of arms” said Lt Col Del Rosario before adding that “this batch received an excellent rating of 95% from the Philippine Army’s Quality Assurance Team which evaluated their core competencies of marksmanship and land navigation.”

It can be recalled that 2DTS has been recognized as the best Army training school across the country in 2019.

Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division which covers Southern Tagalog, commended the training committee for the “excellent job that you have done in transforming these privates to the responsible soldiers that they are today from the happy-go-lucky teenagers that they were when they reported for duty on Feb 25.”

Maj. Gen. Burgos added that 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.”

He also said that “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 front-liners.”

Finest traditions

Despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, Maj Gen Burgos assured the public that “these 179 young, proud and dashing privates in front of us have been trained in accordance to the finest traditions of Filipino soldiery and have been equipped with the wits, skills and valor of a true Jungle Fighter and are now ready to live up to the 2nd Infantry Division’s mandate as advocates of peace, servants of the people and defenders of Southern Tagalog.”

Addressing the new soldiers and their relatives, Maj Gen Burgos said that despite the risks of military service, they should be “comforted with the fact that they are putting their lives on the line for the most noble of causes, they are putting their lives on the line beside the best brothers-in-arms that they could ever have, and that they are putting their lives on the line so that our beloved country and people may continue to praise our God under the Filipino flag which will eternally fly high over every inch of Philippine territory.”

Maj. Gen. Burgos also thanked Chancellor Sanchez “for sharing some of your very precious time with us which shall serve as an inspiration for each and every soldier to remain steadfast in fulfilling our mission regardless of the challenges, despite the risks and whatever the consequences.”

He also assured the chancellor saying “your soldiers will always be your partners in developing and protecting our country’s youth upon whose shoulders our nation’s future depend.”

The new soldiers will be deployed with 2ID frontline units and will see action across CALABARZON, MIMARO Provinces, Davao, Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu. (PNA)