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Thursday, June 15, 2017

VP leads Freedom Day rites

From the Website of INQUIRER

Rally for peace and human rights on Independence Day


VP leads Freedom Day rites

VP Leni Robredo leads the flag raising ceremony and wreath laying during the 119th Independence day celebration held at Rizal Park in Manila. also in photo from left: Executive Sec Salvador Medialdea and DFA Sec Alan Peter Cayetano. INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Tired and not feeling well, President Duterte skipped his first Independence Day rites at Rizal Park in Manila on Monday.

In his stead, Vice President Leni Robredo led the flag-raising and wreath-laying at the monument of national hero Jose Rizal.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the President was not feeling well after visiting on Sunday afternoon soldiers wounded in the fighting in Marawi City and then condoling later in the evening with the families of the slain Marines.

“You know that the President has been working 24/7—meeting the troops, meeting the commanders—and then late last night visiting the wounded and those who died,” Cayetano told reporters at Rizal Park. “It’s nothing to worry about … it’s just that he’s not feeling well, tired and lacking in sleep.”

“I don’t have the full details but I received the call around 5:30 this morning and I talked to his people and inquired and was told that there’s no problem. He’s OK but tired and doesn’t feel that well. It’s better to rest,” he said.

Mr. Duterte went to Villamor Air Base after arriving in Manila from Mindanao to condole with the families of eight of the 13 Marines who were slain in Marawi on Friday. He then went to the Philippine Marines headquarters in Fort Bonifacio to visit the wake of two other Marines killed in Marawi.

Palace event canceled

Last week, Malacañang canceled the traditional Independence Day vin d’honneur reception at the Palace so that Mr. Duterte could attend to pressing matters in Mindanao.

“He doesn’t feel giving a toast while soldiers are dying and evacuees are in provinces surrounding Marawi,” Cayetano said.

“As you know, the target was to liberate Marawi today, June 12, but as you can see yourselves … the problem is complex and there are so many developments but we hope to resolve this once and for all,” he added.

The heroism of government troops who died battling terrorists in Marawi was extolled in separate celebrations in Kawit, Cavite province, where the nation’s independence from Spain was proclaimed 119 years ago, and at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan province, which hosted the assembly that established the first Philippine Republic in 1899.

Modern Katipuneros

“Many lives have been lost in the fighting,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit. “I would like to honor our country’s modern-day Katipuneros: the soldiers and policemen, who day and night offer their lives in the name of public service to protect peace and our safety against criminality and other plagues of the society.”

Lacson said that fighting for the country did not end when President Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence in 1898. He said freedom should not be a mere chapter of history but something that had to be protected for the sake of generations to come.

He told reporters he would also support a move by Cavite representatives to declare March 22, the birth date of Aguinaldo, a national holiday.

On the Barasoain Church grounds in the City of Malolos in Bulacan province, Sen. Loren Legarda led a moment of silence as a wreath was offered for the soldiers, policemen and civilians killed in the fighting with Islamist terrorists in Marawi.

Legarda said it was “fitting to dedicate the Independence Day celebration to those who have invested their lives for freedom.”

In his speech at Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City, Sen. Sonny Angara called for unity in the face of the Marawi conflict.

“There’s a mix of sadness in today’s celebration of our Independence Day upon hearing the 11 p.m. news that 58 soldiers and policemen have died due to the clashes in Marawi City,” he said, adding he hoped that the conflict in Mindanao would soon be resolved.

Seeds of revolution

The Battle of Pinaglabanan in August 1896 resulted in the great losses to Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan but it lit the fire and planted the seeds of revolution that eventually resulted in the proclamation of independence in 1898.

In the morning, the Philippine flag was raised simultaneously in San Juan City and other historical parts of the country.

“Let us unite so that our prayers would reach the citizens, that amid the violence and turmoil, they will be safe and that our police and soldiers would gain the strength and courage to keep fighting for our flag,” Angara said.

In Angeles City in Pampanga province, Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan urged Filipinos to pray for peace in Marawi and for the eternal repose of the fallen troops.

During a dramatization of the country’s revolutionary struggles for freedom, local artists performed a skit about the clashes between government troops and terrorists in Marawi.

In her Independence Day message, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno urged the Filipino people to remember “those who have fought for and continue to fight for our country’s freedom and sovereignty.”

Sereno skipped the flag-raising ceremony and Independence Day rites at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City as she attended the preliminary conference of the oral arguments on the three petitions challenging President Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao, according to Theodore Te, the Supreme Court spokesperson.

“The judiciary pays homage to all Filipino heroes, draws inspiration from them, reflects with sorrow on the fallen in Marawi and renews its commitment to the people to defend their freedoms,” Sereno said.

“We celebrate the valor of our fallen heroes present and past, all of who sacrificed lives and wealth, safety and comfort,” she added.

Just and humane

In his first Independence Day message as foreign secretary, Cayetano said the Philippines remained in good standing in the international community as the country faced threats of terrorism and crimes.

He insisted that the country would pursue an “independent foreign policy” while the Duterte administration continued the fight “for freedom from poverty, crime, illegal drugs and corruption.”

He also hailed the more than 10 million Filipino workers who labored overseas to provide for their families at home.

“As a nation, we Filipinos on bended knees implore the aid of Almighty God to guide us to maintain a just and humane society, especially amid the threats of international terrorism and international crimes,” Cayetano said, without mentioning the military’s campaign to dislodge terrorists entrenched in Marawi.

“At the same time, we stand tall as Filipinos as the Philippines is a responsible and respected member of the community of nations,” he said.

Last week, 32 countries from Europe expressed “deep concern” over extrajudicial killings related to the antidrug campaign and urged the government to allow the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, to investigate “without preconditions or limitations.” 






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