MANILA, Philippines — The country’s heroes faced foreign colonizers centuries ago, but Filipinos now are facing “modern problems” such as poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality, and illegal drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte said this Wednesday as he paid tribute to heroes “from the past and the present” during the celebration of the 121st Independence Day in Lanao Del Sur.
“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 in his speech.
“And while the noble heroes of our past faced the might of colonial powers, this time, we face the modern problems of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality, and illegal drugs,” he added.
The President stressed that these threats have “infringed on our inalienable right to live peaceful, safe, comfortable, and meaningful lives.”
“We are at a crucial juncture in our nation’s history, and we need to learn from the lessons of our past if we are to [ensure] that these threats do not cause any more harm to the present and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.
Duterte was supposed to lead the ceremony set for 2 p.m., but he arrived at the venue around 5:45 p.m.
In his speech, the President also explained his decision to celebrate Independence Day in the province of Lanao Del Sur, citing the execution of former Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos.
“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,” Duterte said.
The Chief Executive, who has been going around military camps since he assumed office in 2016, added that he decided to hold the commemoration at the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion to personally thank the unit for fighting lawless elements in the area.
Last year, Duterte was heckled during the Independence Day rites in Kawit, Cavite after a small group of anti-government protesters managed to slip into the crowd during the ceremony at the balcony of the house of Emilio Aguinaldo. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
READ: Protesters disrupt Duterte’s Independence Day speech in Cavite
READ: Duterte urges Filipinos to work for ‘truly independent Philippines’
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