PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte led the 120th Independence Day celebration Tuesday.
He called on his fellow Filipinos to defend the cherished democratic ideals which led to the country’s liberty from the Spanish rule.
The President urged the Filipinos to emulate the unity and valor of the country’s forefathers to achieve "meaningful and lasting change" in the Philippines.
"May solidarity and heroism exhibited by our ancestors fuel our desire to spur meaningful and lasting change in our communities as we collectively battle the social ills of corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality that impede our progress as a nation," said the country’s top chief executive.
But staunch critics of the administration assailed the President for the continuing crisis in governance.
In a statement, Bayan-Negros called on their fellow Filipinos to “show our commitment to the fight for freedom, justice, and democracy.”
In the wake of thousands of extra-judicial killings and similar atrocities, our leaders persist in trampling on our most basic human rights, the group said.
They also slammed the national government for trumping the country’s democracy, “in the face of bare-faced corruption and tyrannical rule, our leaders have connived to undermine judicial independence and whatever is left of the system of checks and balances in government.”
120 years ago, the country was liberated from Spain.
The Philippine independence was proclaimed at the ancestral house of the first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.