Protest, speeches mark Independence Day in Cebu

Protest, speeches mark Independence Day in Cebu
Photo by Claudine Flores

THE Independence Day celebration in Cebu on Wednesday morning, June 12, 2024, was marked with protest from left-leaning groups and speeches from local government leaders.

Protesters from various groups walked from Plaza Independencia to Freedom Park, then held a program on Colon St. in downtown Cebu City from 9:30 a.m. until noon.

Some carried placards with messages like “Atin ang Pilipinas US ug China, Layas (The Philippines belongs to us. US and China, get out)!” and “Demilitarize West Philippine Sea.”

Bayan Central Visayas coordinator John Ruiz, in an interview, said the country is not yet fully liberated.

“We are doing this protest to remind our people that the Philippines is still in its quest to achieve the true liberation of the country,” he said.

Ruiz said they have problems with the continued U.S. military presence through the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as it “endangers” Filipinos with “the geopolitical competitionwith China.”

“China’s bullying and encroachment is also an issue. We need to unite with other countries and not rely on US military posturing in the region,” he said in Cebuano.

China and the Philippines have an ongoing dispute over the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea based on its historical “nine-dash line,” while the Philippines asserts its rights within its exclusive economic zone as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a landmark case against China’s claims in the South China Sea. The tribunal concluded that China’s “nine-dash line” claim, which it used to assert historical rights over most of the sea, had no legal basis under international law.

Speeches

Meanwhile, local governments held programs with leaders delivering speeches that tackled history.

In Cebu City, Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia addressed corruption and injustices in his speech. He emphasized that apathy and societal issues hinder national progress and urged his constituents to emulate the resilience and determination of the country’s forefathers.

Garcia highlighted the power of the people to shape the city’s and nation’s identity.

“May we then continue to do our part and fight our own battles to help build a stronger and resilient Cebu City and Philippines,” he said.

“May we all rekindle within ourselves the same burning fire for patriotism and love of the country of our heroes,” he added.

For his part, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan said Independence Day symbolizes the nation’s triumph, urging citizens to prioritize love for the country and strive for a more prosperous Philippines.

He highlighted the nation’s journey from war to freedom, acknowledging heroes like Lapulapu, Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

His wife, Lapu-Lapu Lone District Rep. Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” Chan also recognized the sacrifices of ancestors.

In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes urged his fellow citizens to value the efforts of Filipino forefathers who fought for freedom.

Cortes said nation-building starts with the people being responsible citizens.

“The future lets us move forward filled with hope and promise each step we take no matter how small brings us closer to Mandaue that is vibrant, inclusive and resilience,” he said.

Celebrities Barbie Forteza and David Licauco joined Mandaue’s Independence Day celebration.

Philippine Independence Day is a national holiday observed every year on June 12. It commemorates the declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule on this day in 1898. / CDF, JPS, CAV, DPC

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