MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino led the celebration of the 77th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, a time to pay tribute to the heroism and sacrifices of Filipino soldiers.
Aquino handed awards to 12 soldiers and civilian employees for their respective achievements and gallantry and bravery in combat.
The AFP scaled down the celebration in deference to victims suffering from the effects of Typhoon Pablo.
Gone is the traditional fly-by of the Philippine Air Force and the high speed opener during the program this year.
The parade of motorized, mounted, and marching troops proceeded without the humanitarian assistance and disaster response team and equipment, which are currently deployed in Mindanao for the relief and retrieval operations there.
It featured other military assets, equipment, and contingent, including the much applauded skydiving team.
The AFP also canceled its traditional ball and dinner in honor of former chiefs of staff and dignitaries.
Together with the canceled or scaled down Christmas parties, the AFP was able to save around P2 million. The AFP says this will "augment the initial P3 million released to help and assist the victims of typhoon Pablo."
In addition, AFP chief of staff General Jessie Dellosa said the AFP General Headquarters was able to gather P19 million worth of donations for the typhoon victims.
Dellosa vowed the military's dedication to duty and commitment to reforms, urging colleagues to practice heroism in their own ways.
One way to show this, he said, is to shun bribery.
"Ang kakayahang tumanggi sa suhol sa iba't ibang anyo ay pagpapakita din ng kabayanihan at katapangan," he said.
"Ang pagsugpo sa pagpapalaganap ng maling sistema at patakaran na siyang nagiging hadlang sa pagsasaayos ng ating hukbo ay nagbibigay ng bagong pag-asa sa mga bagong henerasyon ng pinuno na kanilang makakamtam ang isang propesyunal, maaasahan at ginagalang na Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas."
Dellosa thanked lawmakers for the passage of the new AFP modernization act, which would allow the military to augment its capabilities and resources.
In his speech, the President said this will allow the AFP to fulfill its mandate to protect the country.
"Ibig sabihin, tapos na po ang yugto kung saan—sabi nga po ng iba—puro 'Air' at walang 'Force' ang Hukbong Himpapawid. Ihanda na ang tarmac para sa mga bagong eroplanong babagwis sa ating papawirin. Tapos na rin po ang araw kung kailan mas pinangangambahan po ng Hukbong Dagat ang tetanus mula sa mga kinakalawang na barko kaysa sa mga banyagang umaangkin sa ating teritoryo; ihanda na po ang mga daungan para sa mga moderno’t dekalidad na barko ng Navy na magtatanggol sa ating mga baybayin."
"Panahon na rin para magretiro ang mga antigong trak ng Hukbong Katihan; hindi magtatagal, mas mabibilis at mas makabagong mga tangke, trak, at ambulansya ang inyong sasakyan, ‘yong iba po ay nandiyan sa gilid natin."
He said the government is committed to improving the military's condition and capability, with newly acquired assets and housing program for the uniformed personnel.