Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the press at the Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines. File/ Reuters
Manolo B. Jara
MANILA: President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte on Tuesday urged the Filipino people to draw inspiration from the country’s “brave forefathers” who defended the liberty and democracy that they are now enjoying.
Duterte issued the message as the country observed “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor), a national holiday, which commemmorated the 77th anniversary of the bravery of Filipino and American mililtary forces against the Japanese invaders in World War 11.
“As we hold this solemn observance, it is my hope that we will all be inspired to remain steadfast like our forefathers and their allies in upholding our severeignty and in protecting the rights and freedom that our people enjoy today,” Duterte said.
He added: “Today, we remember the heroism of the Filipino and American troops who also stood side by side in the mountains and jungles of Bataan in defense of our liberty and democracy.”
But instead of attending the annual rites at the Mount Samat National Shrine in Bataan province in Central Luzon, Malacanang Palace announced that Duterte decided instead to skip the event and join on Tuesday afternoon the military officers and men engaged in the campaign against the Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists on the capital town of Jolo, Sulu in restive Mindanao.
The Palace said Vice President Leni Robredo was to head top government officials as well as foreign envoys led by the US and Japanese ambassadors at the ceremonies at the Bataan shrine.
In a message in Filipino, Robredo paid tribute to the Filipino and American forces who defied the Japanese forces during World War 11 before surrendering as she pointed out:”In our history, the Filipino has always stood by for the country whether it be against invaders or abusive regimes.”
“The Philippines,” Robredo emphasized, “is the cradle of the valiant and we must live up to that every day.”
On the eve of Duterte’s visit to Sulu, the military on Monday reported the killing of a suspect in the bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo on Jan. 27 that led to the death of 30 devotees and the a relative of a top terrorist leader.
The head of a Philippine online news site, among media agencies deemed critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested again on Friday, this time over an alleged investment violation.
China has rejected Philippine allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, as pressure builds on President Rodrigo Duterte to take a tougher line.
The Philippines on Saturday rejected a call for an independent United Nations probe into Manila’s alleged human rights violations, describing it as interference in the affairs of the Asian nation.
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