Duterte: Shun hatred, division

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte: Shun hatred, division
On June 12, 2022, President Rodrigo Duterte attends the 124th Independence Day rites for the first time at Rizal Park in Manila on Sunday and the last Independence Day that he celebrates as chief executive. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Duterte skipped the Independence Day celebration at the Rizal Park and stayed in Davao City. Malacañang said Duterte had decided not to attend the ceremony in Manila to avoid drawing huge crowds. Last year, Duterte celebrated his penultimate Independence Day as president in Malolos, Bulacan, the birthplace of the First Philippine Republic.
Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — In his last Independence Day message as the country’s leader yesterday, President Duterte exhorted Filipinos to unite and engage in meaningful discourse without causing hatred and division.

“Let our constant discernment in the continuing process of nation-building therefore make us realize that our liberties are there to make us wiser and not to prove that we are always right or better,” Duterte said at the 124th Philippine Independence Day celebration in Rizal Park in Manila.

Leading the flag-raising ceremony, the Chief Executive also offered a wreath before the monument of Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

In his speech, he noted that more than a century ago, Filipinos showed the world their “collective force and will” as a people by compellingly repudiating colonial subjugation.

It was Emilio Aguinaldo, widely acknowledged as the first Philippine president, who proclaimed the country’s independence from Spanish rule in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

“While our path to true freedom has been long and tedious, our forefathers have walked the mile and made us pioneers of republican democracy in Asia. The shared narrative that we have weaved throughout history has never ceased in teaching us what values to hold and which lessons to remember,” Duterte said.

He then called on Filipinos of today to continue to believe that there is still wisdom to be gained from their present choices, decisions and actions while drawing strength from learning their past so they can shape a better future for the people.

“Even in exercising our most cherished freedoms, our differences can move us to engage in healthy yet meaningful discourse without sowing hatred and division, as well as push our country towards the right direction. In the spirit of patriotism and love of the motherland exemplified by those who came before us, let us come together in unity for the glory and triumph of the Filipino nation,” he said.

It was his last Independence Day as President, but it was also Duterte’s first time to lead the flag-raising for the occasion in Rizal Park.

He was supposed to celebrate his first Independence Day as Chief Executive in Rizal Park in 2017, but skipped the event because he was not feeling well. A year later, he led the ceremonies in Kawit, Cavite, where he was heckled by activists critical of his policies.

In 2019, Duterte celebrated Independence Day with soldiers of the 6th Infantry Battalion in Malabang, Lanao del Sur; then in 2020, the year COVID-19 entered the country, he skipped the activity at Luneta again to avoid drawing a crowd.

Last year, the President attended the Independence Day rites in Malolos City, Bulacan, birthplace of the first Philippine Republic.

Yesterday, Duterte also attended the commissioning of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship, BRP Melchora Aquino, in Manila and the lowering of the first tunnel-boring machine of the Metro Manila subway project in Valenzuela City.

‘Freedom towards progress’

Leading the celebration at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo asked every Filipino to protect and let freedom flourish in order to attain progress and individual dignity.

“Freedom can only be meaningful if it leads to development of the community and not to benefit a few. Freedom would be achieved if every Filipino would have dignity, regardless of their status in life,” the head of the Supreme Court said after leading flag-raising rites at the historical site.

Gesmundo urged the people to contribute toward attaining the country’s goals by doing their respective responsibilities as citizens of the nation and by calling for “freedom from hunger, poverty, threats, and injustice.”

He said the country’s freedom from colonial rule can only be meaningful if it is “for the progress not only of a select few but of the whole community.”

Also present at the event were Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan, Vice Mayor Luis Macario Asistio, 1st District Rep. Dale Gonzalo Malapitan, National Historical Commission officer-in-charge Deputy Executive Director Alvin Alcid, Caloocan chief of police Col. Samuel Mina, and Caloocan Bureau of Fire Protection Superintendent Roberto Samillano.

From the judiciary, those present were Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of the SC Public Information Office Brian Keith Hosaka, as well as judges from the Regional Trial Courts and the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Caloocan City.

‘Support nation-building’

Meanwhile, incoming speaker Martin Romualdez called on the nation to support the next administration’s plans and programs aimed at resuscitating the pandemic-battered economy.

Ringing positivity in his Independence Day message, the Leyte congressman said: “Let us face these challenges with heads up high and with strong conviction to secure our victory. Be heroes in our own little way. Each one of us has a great role to play in making this nation great again.”

Romualdez said the task of the incoming administration of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to fully recover from the pandemic is not easy so government will “need all hands on deck.”

“I urge all of you to remain steadfast in our common quest to build a strong nation founded on freedom, justice and democracy. This is for Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Dr. Jose Rizal, Gat Andres Bonifacio, and for all Filipino heroes,” he said.

“We are being called again to action and service – not to bear arms against a foreign invader, but to heed the call of unity by Marcos. We are asked to reach out to our fellow Filipinos, friends and foes alike, and appeal to them to link arms for nation-building,” he added.

Balanga Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos said that as the country observes Independence Day, the contributions of the modern-day heroes such as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), medical workers and other frontliners should also be recognized by the nation.

“We have to be grateful for those who sacrificed their lives and served our country. Let us not forget their heroism, learn from them and live up to what they fought for,” said Santos, vice chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, over Radyo Veritas.

“Our new enemy is COVID-19. We can overcome this as we are doing by being responsible, compassionate, and obedient. We have seen modern heroes-medical frontliners, essential service providers, our OFWs and seafarers. We then follow their examples and always collaborate with them,” he added.

For his part, San Pablo Bishop Buenaventura Famadico reminded Filipinos that celebrating 124 years of Philippine Independence is a gift from God.

“We thank God for the gift of freedom in our country. We should live it with responsibility. Just like how every voter had their role in selecting our next leaders; every citizen also has a part to play in maintaining a peaceful, developed and orderly country where he is living,” Famadico said in the same radio broadcast. – Delon Porcalla, Evelyn Macairan, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Elizabeth Marcelo



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