IN THE observance of the 121st Independence Day, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, June 12, lauded the country’s “past and present” patriots.
Duterte, who commemorated the 121st anniversary of the declaration of the Philippine Independence in Lanao del Sur, gave praise not only to the nation’s forefathers but also to the living Filipinos who are willing to defend the country from “any form of subjugation or oppression.”
“Today, we remember our storied past while looking forward to a future worthy of the sweat and blood that were shed by our forebears more than a century ago,” the President said in a speech delivered at the Sixth Infantry Battalion headquarters in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
“Today, let us pay tribute to our patriots -- both from the past and the present -- by safeguarding the democratic institutions that were built from the rubble of the wars that gave rise to our heroes,” he added.
On June 12, 1898, the country’s independence from Spain was declared at the ancestral house of the first Philippine president, Emilio Aguinaldo, in Kawit, Cavite.
Duterte explained his decision to celebrate the Independence Day in Malabang, saying that it is the place where Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos was executed by the Japanese colony for refusing to cooperate during their invasion of the Philippines.
He added that it was “fitting” to hold the commemoration at the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s Sixth Infantry Battalion because the said unit, otherwise known as “Redskin Battalion,” has been fighting the Dawiah Islamiyah, the Maute group, and other lawless groups.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the brave men and women of the Redskin Battalion for your bravery, selflessness service, and unconditional love of country. Your valor has indeed earned you a place among the valiant heroes who built this nation 121 years ago,” he said.
The Chief Executive acknowledged that while the noble heroes of the past faced the might of colonial powers, the country still faces the “modern problems of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality and illegal drugs.”
Aware that the present threats have infringed on the Filipinos’ “inalienable right to live peaceful, safe, comfortable and meaningful lives,” Duterte honored the “strong” resolve of those who are exhausting all efforts to keep the freedom the country is currently enjoying.
“Let us honor them by keeping in mind that the freedom that they won back then -- the same freedom that we continue to enjoy today -- is only as strong as our determination to [remain] free from any form of subjugation or oppression,” he said.
“We are at a crucial juncture in our nation’s history, and we need to learn from the lessons of our past if we are to [ensure] that these threats do not cause any more harm to the present and future generations of Filipinos. Let us all work together so we may preserve this gift of liberty that all our children deserve to inherit,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)