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.”
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