DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday called on Filipinos to work for the attainment of the dreams of their forefathers for a truly independent Philippines.
“Let us commit ourselves to ensure that their sacrifices have not been in vain and that their dreams of a truly independent Philippines – whose people live freely in a secure, stable and prosperous society – will be achieved in our lifetime,” the President said in his Independence Day message.
Duterte commemorated the 121st anniversary with the soldiers, policemen and government officials at the 6th Infantry Battalion in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
“The freedom that we achieved back then was not without cost. The tree of liberty blossomed on these lands because it was nourished by the sweat and blood of our patriots, heroes and martyrs,” he said.
Duterte noted that the proclamation of independence was the most significant event in the country’s history.
“Not only did we put an end to more than three centuries of subservience but we also resolved to determine the course of our own destiny as a nation,” he added.
Inclusive and free
With this year’s theme Tapang ng Bayan, Malasakit sa Mamamayan, Vice President Leni Robredo renewed her call for inclusivity and freedom of expression in the country.
“As we mark our independence today, I hope we can go back to how we as a race chose to follow our own path, build our own government and establish our own state. In pushing for this interest, we took responsibility for creating a society that is free, just and humane. A society where every Filipino has the opportunity to live in prosperity and peacefully,” Robredo said in a statement in Filipino.
As in the past two years, the Vice President led the Independence Day rites at Rizal Park in Manila.
For his part, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin yesterday dared the public to rely on themselves and not on foreigners and to unite instead of squabbling over politics.
In his speech during Independence Day rites at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City, Bersamin called on Filipinos to learn to be independent instead of relying on foreign powers.
He also urged Filipinos to emulate the nation’s heroes, whose sacrifices gave the country peace and independence.
Bersamin also called on Filipinos to set aside their political differences for the sake of unity.
Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday led the celebration at Barasoain Church in Malolos City, Bulacan.
Arroyo pointed out that Filipinos have a duty to protect Philippine independence.
“We are responsible for the continued development of the country. We also continue to fight poverty,” she said in Filipino.
Message to Filipinos
In a statement in commemoration of Independence Day, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the youth, indigenous people, members of urban poor communities and other peace-loving Filipinos should reject the ideology of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in celebration of Independence Day, called on all Filipinos yesterday to help the government in its effort to put an end to the country’s insurgency problem.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has increased its efforts to put an end to the New People’s Army, which the government now refers to as communist terrorists.
Combining military operations with peace-building activities, the military claims that hundreds of rebel group members and supporters have voluntarily surrendered since the Duterte administration boosted its rebel returnee program.
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde urged the public to honor modern heroes of the country, among them soldiers, teachers, firefighters and farmers.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III in his Independence Day statement said Filipinos must free the nation and families from the bondage of illegal drugs.
Outgoing Sen. Loren Legarda urged Filipinos to unite to help the country achieve “inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth so that every citizen will be free from poverty.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva urged Filipinos to remember the sacrifices and heroism of their forefathers who fought tooth and nail against colonizers, which paved the way for the liberties the nation currently enjoys.
Sen. Cynthia Villar led the wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of General Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite. Joining the senator were Cavite Gov. Jesus Crispin Remulla, Kawit Mayor Angelo Aguinaldo and Navy Rear Admiral Giovanni Bacordo.
As this developed, Sen. Leila de Lima urged Filipinos to voice out their disgust against threats to the country’s freedom, such as the influx of illegals and extrajudicial and summary killings in the country. Meanwhile, leftist groups and lawmakers urged Duterte to pursue a truly independent foreign policy.
They maintained that the administration is sinking the country deeper into the debt trap by obtaining onerous loans from China.
The lawmakers added that the government should instill patriotism in the youth by developing Filipino as the national language and the proper teaching of history to students. – With Christina Mendez, Helen Flores, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Emmanuel Tupas, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla, Elizabeth Marcelo, Michael Punongbayan