Of Discipline and Precision: First Presidential Silent Drill
By Ligaya Caban
At the Rizal Park open grounds fronting the Quirino Grandstand, seven top-notched outfits marched in disciplined form for the First Presidential Silent Drill competitions, December 20th.
Judges were pressured by the tight runs, but have to announce these rankings:
- Champion, Phil Military Academy (PMA)
- 1st Runner-Up, Phil National Police Academy (PNPA)
- 2nd Runner-Up, Phil Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA)
- 3rd Runner-Up, Phil Army Officer Candidate School (PAOCS)
- 4th Runner-Up, Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP)
- 5th Runner-Up, Phil Air Force Officer Candidate School (PAFOCS)
- 6th Runner-Up Phil Navy Officer Candidate School (PNOCS)
President Rodrigo Duterte handed over the awards, assisted by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Christopher Go and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso.
The competitions are in support of Duterte’s bid to revive as mandatory the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in schools. He believes it will prepare young Filipinos to defend the country.
Among the special guests were Admiral Joel Sarsiban Garcia and Commodore Joel Y. Abutal. Garcia was the 28th Commandant of the Coast Guard (PCG); Abutal, Superintendent at the Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA).
Commo. Abutal was quoted, “I really want to serve my country to the best of my ability because it’s my lifelong dream. My principle in life is this: Do what you can do for your country, not what your country can do for you. “
The event is organized by the Office of the President with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in coordination with the Dept. of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces (AFP) through the Office of the Reservist and Retiree Affairs (OJ9), in line with the Presidential directive to both DND and PSG to engage the youth in military activities.
Top purse was PhP300,000; second, 200,000; third, 100,000 and the other four received 50,000 each as consolation prizes.
While not a military school, PMMA won the championship at the First Phil Marine Corps Silent Drill competitions held at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last October.
A silent drill is performed on voice and sword commands to cadets on line maneouvers and rifle cadence. It used to highlight Annual Tactical Inspections (ATIs) by regional military commanders supervising the ROTC program.
Extra points are earned by schools with lyre units, drum-and-bugle corps or a marching band, these being crowd-pleasers in the Parade and Review (like droves of tourists witness the spectacle at Fort Del Pilar, PMA).
In the days of frontal combat, music complemented flags directing troops in theatres of war. Legends of bravery are the drumbeaters of Napoleon, the ragtag drummers of the American Revolution and the bagpipers of Britain and Ireland.
They play their music in the thick of battles, without arms but steel nerves to inspire comrades.
Drills are often on battalion levels only. Famous are the Long Grey Line of West Point (USA) and the stiff and stomping Stormtroopers of Hitler (Germany).
Drills becomes “formation” when Contingents, Divisions and Armies are massed for show of force, displayed mechanized, armoured and batteries units with flyovers of the air force.
A battalion is 4 companies of 4 platoons of 4 squads of 9 men; increasing on wartime strength with medics, signal, snipers and scouts (Explorers for strategy; Intels for tactics).
Today, earth surveillance is via satellite, air by drones, land by mini cameras, sea by submersibles, the atmosphere by digital systems triangulated in the world.
The Philippines have three uniformed security forces: Armed (AFP), Police (PNP) and Coast Guard (PCG). All have specialized units like the Rangers (PA), Marines (PN), Paratroopers (PAF), Special Action Force (PNP), Search and Rescue (PSG).
In proper perspective, it is very impressive PMMA is on the top competing with military schools; so with MAAP, a private entity, adapting military regimes in campus, board and educational management.