By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Joseph Almer Pedrajas
President Duterte expressed his desire for a truly independent Philippines at the commemoration of the country’s 121st Independence Day celebration on Wednesday, June 12.
The President said he is one with the Filipino people in celebrating the most significant event in the country’s history.
“A hundred and twenty-one years has passed since our forefathers bound their fates, their lives, and their fortunes to proclaim the independence of the Filipino people,” he said.
“It was the most significant event in our country’s history. Not only did we put an end to more than three centuries of subservience, but we also resolved to determine the course of our destiny as a nation,” he added.
The President urged Filipinos to not let the sacrifices of the country’s heroes to go to waste by making sure that the Philippines is truly independent.
“The freedom we achieved back then was not without cost. The tree of liberty blossomed on these lands because it was nourished by the sweat and blood of our patriots, heroes, and martyrs,” Duterte noted.
“Let us commit ourselves to ensure that their sacrifices have not been in vain and that their dream of a truly independent Philippines – whose people live freely in a secure, stable, and prosperous society – will be achieved within our lifetimes,” he appealed.
This is the third Independence Day celebration under President Duterte’s administration. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Kalayaan 2019: Tapang Ng Bayan, Malasakit Sa Mamamayan.”
Defend our freedom – Leni
Vice President Leni Robredo reminded Filipinos of their responsibility to defend their freedom as the country celebrated its 121st Independence Day.
“In today’s commemoration of our independence, I hope we remember how we, as a nation, chose to follow our own path to establish our own government and state,” Robredo said in her Independence Day message written in Filipino.
“In pushing for this interest, we assumed the responsibility to make a free, just and humane society. A society wherein every Filipino has the opportunity to live in prosperity and peacefully,” she added.
Don’t rely on other countries
Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, meanwhile, urged Filipinos not to depend on other countries to resolve our own problems.
“Let us not develop the attitude of depending on foreign countries to resolve our own problems and challenges,” Bersamin, who led the celebration of the 121st Philippine Independence Day at Andres Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City, said in Filipino.
“It is important that we accept the fact that no one but us, Filipinos, can make a way to attain long-lasting progress for our country,” he added.
“If we depend on other countries, we cannot start resolving our own problems,” Bersamin said in an interview with reporters.
“Other countries have their own agenda, while our only agenda is our country,” he added.
Bersamin, however, stressed that he still welcomes any assistance from any countries, but it should come without any condition.
“Any country which is willing to help is welcomed. But it should come without any condition. If China wants to help, it should be unconditional. So with the US,” he said.
Bersamin believes that the Philippines still has to deal with other countries because “everything has to be relative.”
This is the reason he thinks the country has no “absolute independence.”
‘Reject foreign ideology’
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año appealed to the public to protect the country’s freedom from leftist enemies of the state, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called on all Filipinos to rally behind the government to once and for all end the local communist insurgency.
Speaking during the 121st Independence Day celebration on Wednesday, Año urged the Filipino people to shun the recruitment efforts of terrorist and leftist groups that only would sow violence and terror in the country.
He specifically urged this call to the youth, indigenous peoples (IPs), and urban poor who are the main recruitment targets of the “enemies of the state.”
While the country has long been freed from Spanish colonial control, Año said the threat posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) still remains.
He noted these enemies of the state are out to deceive the youth and other vulnerable sectors to join them in trampling on the country’s democracy and overthrowing duly-constituted authorities, remains.
“Independence does not only mean liberation from external or foreign manipulation. For the last 50 years, communist terrorist groups have been pounding on the democratic pillars and integrity of the Philippine State and have caused the death of countless innocent civilians and the promising youth,” said Año.
Lorenzana, in his Independence Day statement, said that in the spirit of nationalism, he calls on every Filipino to safeguard the freedom that our ancestors fought for; the very freedom we have sworn to protect.
Año emphasized that Independence Day also means emancipation from foreign harmful ideologies, particularly Marxism–Leninism–Maoism political philosophy that is alien to the democratic Filipino way of life.
Because the communist ideology is a foreign imposition and a proven failed system among countries that adopted it “it must be rejected outright by Filipinos because it would destroy the Philippine society,” the Interior Secretary said.
Año warned the Filipino citizenry not to be “enslaved and blinded” by the communists as well as individuals and groups affiliated to them.
“Let us rally behind our government to end local communist armed conflict to eradicate the flaw of a foreign ideology that has inflicted division in our Motherland for decades,” Lorenzana said, echoing Año’s call.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. assured that the AFP will continue to work tirelessly and selflessly in securing our nation’s freedom and independence.
In his statement on Independence Day, Madrigal said the Filipino soldier is always ready and willing to make sacrifices to protect the interests of the people.
“For many decades, thousands of soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that citizens have a peaceful and secure environment conducive to national development,” Madrigal said.
“As we continue to draw courage and inspiration from all Filipinos, we call on them to treasure our independence and use their freedom to develop themselves as productive members of our society,” he added. (With reports from Chito A. Chavez and Francis T. Wakefield)