MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday led the 121st Independence Day rites at the Lanao del Sur military camp, reminding Filipinos that freedom is only as strong as the resolve to remain free.
“It was here in Malabang, Lanao del Sur that then Acting President, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, was executed by the Japanese for refusing to cooperate with them during the invasion of the Philippines,” Duterte said in his speech as he explained the significance of holding Independence Day rites at the heart of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“A true patriot even to the last moment, he told his son to be brave and not to cry for it is an honor to die for one’s country as not everybody has that chance. What beautiful words,” he added.
Duterte said he found it “fitting” that the Independence Day rites are held at the Headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion, lauding soldiers for their valor.
“Known as the ‘Redskin Battalion,’ this unit has been engaged in our government’s fight against the Dawiah Islamiyah, the Maute Group, and other lawless elements that continue to threaten the region,” Duterte said.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the brave men and women of the Redskin Battalion for your bravery, selflessness service, and unconditional love of country. Your valor has indeed earned you a place among the valiant heroes who built this nation 121 years ago,” he added.
Duterte, meanwhile, urged Filipinos to pay tribute to past and present patriots by “safeguarding the democratic institutions.”
“Let us honor them by keeping in mind that the freedom that they won back then – the same freedom that we continue to enjoy today – is only as strong as our determination to [remain] free from any form of subjugation or oppression,” Duterte said.
While the heroes of the past faced “colonial powers”, Duterte said the country now faces “modern problems of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality, and illegal drugs.”
“These threats, just like the threats our nation faced centuries ago, have infringed on our inalienable right to live peaceful, safe, comfortable, and meaningful lives,” Duterte said.
He said the importance of learning from the “lessons of the past” to ensure that these current threats do not cause more harm.
Duterte also asked all Filipinos to “preserve this gift of liberty” for present and future generations. (PNA)
By Azer Parrocha /PNA