For the first time, Duterte lets Defense chief hand out diplomas to PMA graduates

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2019 09:57 PM | Updated as of May 27 2019 08:10 AM

BAGUIO CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte delegated the distribution of most diplomas during the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as he watched from his seat.

This is a first since he assumed office. In previous PMA commencement exercises, Duterte handed out the diplomas to all PMA graduates.

"Per practice in the military, as the most senior presider, he (Duterte) has the prerogative to delegate the task," PMA spokesperson Major Reynan Afan said in a statement. 

"Nevertheless, we are already grateful for the thoughtful presence of our Commander-in-Chief for gracing the occasion," he added. 

The President only awarded the diploma, presidential saber, and the certificate of ownership to a house and lot to PMA Mabalasik Class of 2019 valedictorian, Dionne Umalla

Vice President Leni Robredo then handed the award to salutatorian Jonathan Mendoza. 

But for the rest of the graduating class, it was Lorenzana who awarded the diploma.

After the distribution of diplomas, the President again stood up to award the PMA 2019 class goat, Danmark Solomon with a caliber .45 gun. He also gave his watch to cadet Albert Jalaguit.

The graduation ceremony was delayed for close to 2 hours, after Duterte arrived late.

It was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., but the President arrived a few minutes before 11 a.m.