126th Independence Day: Marcos leads Rizal Park rites

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
126th Independence Day: Marcos leads Rizal Park rites
Members of the Philippine Army conduct a flag-raising rehearsal at the Rizal Park in Manila on June 11, 2024
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos will lead today the commemoration of the 126th anniversary of Philippine independence, which comes as the country grapples with challenges from its longstanding maritime row with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos will lead the flag-raising ceremony and wreath laying in Rizal Park in Manila.

Simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying rites will also be held in Kawit, Cavite; Malolos City, Bulacan; San Juan City; Manila North Cemetery; Caloocan City and Angeles City, Pampanga, according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

A vin d’honneur or formal reception for diplomats is traditionally held during Independence Day.

The Parada ng Kalayaan 2024 will be held in the afternoon, featuring 22 floats depicting key historical events.

Filipino girl group BINI will perform after the parade.

President Marcos on Sunday invited Filipinos to celebrate the anniversary of Philippine independence, giving assurance that the government is continuously defending the country’s freedom and sovereignty.

At recent camp visits, Marcos highlighted the need to strengthen the military’s external defense capabilities but clarified that the Philippines is not waging a war against anyone.

China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea has led to the harassment of Filipino fishermen and water cannon attacks against coast guard vessels.

The West Philippine Sea is a portion of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral tribunal voided China’s wide-reaching claim in the South China Sea, but the Chinese government refuses to recognize the ruling.

Protect the country

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. yesterday assured Filipinos that the government and the military will protect the country, though he did not specifically mention China and the West Philippine Sea.

Filipinos should continue honoring and supporting veterans and soldiers, he said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. also gave assurance that the military is dedicated to protecting the state.

“Alongside patriotism, unity is our strength as we remain committed to building One Strong Philippines for generations to come,” he said.


Progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) called on Filipinos to fight for genuine freedom against “US imperialist domination.”

Following the nominal independence granted on July 4, 1946, Bayan said the Philippines remained a US neocolony, hosting two of the largest overseas US military bases.

The group highlighted the expansion of US military presence through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which includes nine forward military bases and the prepositioning of military equipment.

These actions are meant to provoke China and could lead to intensified military conflict, similar to the US involvement in Ukraine and other regions, Bayan argued.

Bayan condemned China’s aggressions and opposed the US for using the conflict to justify greater military intervention.

Modern-day enemies

Inflation, joblessness, poverty, corruption and crime are modern-day enemies that the country must strive to overcome, according to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III.

“Let us fight inflation and work towards economic stability for all. Let us fight for salary hikes that reflect the true cost of living and give dignity to each hardworking Filipino. Let us put an end to corruption. Let us address joblessness and poverty as a nation. Let us work together to make our country safer for its people,” he said. — Michael Punongbayan, Mark Ernest Villeza, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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