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Rody: Disputes must be settled peacefully

President Duterte leads the wreath laying ceremony at the Mt. Samat National Shrine in Bataan during the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan yesterday. With him are Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa and US Charge d’ Affaires Michael Klecheski. KRIZJOHN ROSALES

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte renounced war as a means to settle disputes among nations as he renewed the country’s alliance with the United States and Japan during commemoration of the Day of Valor and Veterans’ Week yesterday.

Leading the rites at the Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan for the first time as President, Duterte said “paid (for) in blood, the painful lessons of war behoove all of us in the community of nations to work for peace and development.”

“No matter the spoils, war is never worth it. The reasons of aggression against the occupation of nations should not be countenanced. This is why the Philippines continues to articulate our principled position that disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner,” Duterte said.

“This is a responsibility of all states – great or small, strong or weak. As responsible members of the international community, this is our sacred duty,” he added.

Duterte said this is also the reason the Philippines is the strongest advocate of positive transformation of relations.

“As we fought together to stave off the enemy then, so should we help each other to address the threats that confront our societies, our region and our world,” Duterte said.

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“To be sure, there will be difficulties. Where before the lines of duties were clearly drawn, now the menace of terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes – such as the illegal drug trade – have called into question efforts to uphold the responsibility to defend the interests of the common good,” the President said. “We know where we stand. We know what we should do. We will be undeterred in our efforts to secure for the citizens the future they deserve based on the mandate reposed on us by laws.”

Altar of valor

Duterte said 75 years ago during World War II, Mt. Samat became the altar of valor as Filipinos fought shoulder to shoulder with the US, the country’s only defense treaty ally. “This shared juncture in our past should be the firm basis for moving our relations forward – with full and mutual respect on sovereignty.

“Bloodied yet unbowed, men and women stood their ground to defend our motherland and the values we hold dear,” Duterte said.

“That boldness is humbly edified here in Mt. Samat. This monument stands firmly for those who fought and fell. This is the bastion (for) the indomitable spirit that allowed us to rise again as a nation,” he said.

The President said the people who fought during the war did not die in vain because despite the “tremendous toll of a war we never wanted,” they helped prevent the onward advance of the aggressors.

“This is a legacy to the world that the Philippines should be rightly recognized,” Duterte said.

“We owe nothing less than this solemn pledge for all those who sacrificed the most for our country’s freedom. Our veterans went through one of the darkest chapters in world history for the benefit of our generation and generations after us. We must never forget that they endured a war for the sake of the future. We must remember we are the future that they fought for,” he said.

As rightful heroes, Duterte said generations that came after them, including him who was born during wartime in 1945, owe them “a deep debt of gratitude.”

US and Japan

As Duterte affirmed the country’s alliance with the US and Japan, he said the “shared juncture” in the past should be the firm basis for moving relations forward – with full and mutual respect on sovereignty.

He also said the Philippines and Japan emerged from a “benighted period” during World War II into “a bright era of an expanding space for an unprecedented partnership.”

“In these modern times, Japan and the Philippines are new allies for peace, development and the rule of law in the region,” Duterte said.

“As chair of ASEAN on this the 50th anniversary of the association’s establishment, the Philippines resolves to do its part in regional community building. We will work hard to achieve greater peace, progress and prosperity. We will work with the interests and well-being of ASEAN’s peoples at the very core,” Duterte said.

The Chief Executive stressed the point even if he has been talking about an independent foreign policy but seemed to pursue a pivot to China as he assumed the presidency.

The Philippines and other ASEAN countries are embroiled in a maritime and territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Shared past, continuing cooperation

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa, US deputy chief of mission Michael Klecheski and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana were present during the rites, among other guests.

Since World War II, Klecheski said the Philippines, US and Japan, along with other countries, have forged a rules-based order in Asia that created stability.

“We must also remember the importance of standing together as the US and Philippines have done in many, many years,” Klecheski added in his speech.

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