After Golan crisis, AFP chief reminds PMA cadets to follow orders

Karlston S. Lapniten

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After Golan crisis, AFP chief reminds PMA cadets to follow orders
AFP chief of staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr delivers a speech during the recognition rites of PMA Class 2018

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr reminded cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) about the value of following orders and leadership at a time when Filipino troops’ defiance of their United Nations commander’s orders in Golan Heights was getting widespread support back home.

“Before you become leaders, you have to follow orders,” Catapang told the cadets in his speech during the recognition rites of PMA Class 2018.

Catapang, the guest of honor, said obeying orders is one of the important values the military wants to inculcate among its cadets through character formation and time-honored traditions.

He also cited leadership, stressing that it is the focus of training of cadets.

The AFP chief challenged the cadets to lead the plebes by good example as plebehood is the “most formative” years in their military life.

UN controversy

The defiance of Filipino troops in Golan Heights sparked questions about the peacekeeping operations of the UN. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario is scheduled to meet next week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to discuss the Philippines’ “operational and tactical issues” concerning the deployment of peacekeepers to Golan Heights. (READ: UN chief ot hear out PH peacekeeping issues)


UN Disengagement Observer Force commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singha on August 28 ordered the Filipino troops to surrender their firearms to the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front, who stormed UN encampments on August 28. The Filipinos troops in Golan didn’t want to follow Singha’s orders so they called their commanders in Manila, who supported their decision to disobey Singha.

Catapang said it wasn’t part of the UN commander’s mandate to order troops to surrender their firearms. He added there was no guarantee that the Syrian rebels would not take the troops hostage like the 45 Fijian peacekeepers who had surrendered their firearms earlier that day.

The standoff in Golan Heights took 7 hours. The Filipinos would later execute a daring escape mission.

Singha called the escape an “act of cowardice” and said it put the lives of the Fijian peacekeepers in danger. Back home, the Philippine military got support from Malacañang and Congress. The Fijian peacekeepers were released on September 11 or almost 2 weeks since they were taken hostage. 

In Baguio City, Catapang refused to further discuss the controversy. 

Important milestone

Catapang, a PMA alumni belonging to Class 1981, acknowledged 319 fourth classmen of the ALAB TALA (Alagad ng Lahing Binigkis ng Tapang at Lakas) Class 2018 during the recognition rites at the Borromeo Field.

One of the most significant milestones in the life of a cadet, the rites allow the fourth classmen, the lowest members of the Cadet Corps of the AFP, to be in “at ease” status after being recognized by their upper classmen through a handshake.

This year, there were 1,450 PMA passers out of 12,195 aspirants nationwide. The PMA cadets were selected after rigid medical, psychological and physical examinations. –

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