President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the commemoration Saturday of the 123rd anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, encouraging the Filipino public to honor the country’s frontline workers who are instrumental in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we commemorate this year’s Independence Day, let us honor our modern-day heroes – our healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, and other frontliners who have been instrumental in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the President said in his address in Provincial Capitol Grounds in Malolos City, Bulacan.
“In the past year, they have risked their own lives and sacrificed their own comfort and security to ensure that our society will continue to function despite this crisis. Maraming pong salamat sa inyong pagmalasakit at serbisyo.”
During his message, the President announced the construction of a Wall of Heroes, being erected by the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to honor medical frontliners who perished during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At lahat ‘yong namatay na mga doktor, mga nurses, ‘yong mga attendants na nahawa ng COVID will be honored by their name inscribed in that wall,” he said in announcing the wall’s construction.
“It is now being built. And I’d like to thank the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their pagmalasakit sa kapwa Pilipino.”
Prior to delivering his speech, President Duterte honored the heroes of Bulacan – General Gregorio S. del Pilar and Marcelo H. del Pilar — conferring them, through their descendants, the Order of Lapu-Lapu.
Marcelo H. del Pilar fought Spanish colonizers through his writings under the pen name “Plaridel”.
Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, on the other hand, was hailed as the “Hero of Tirad Pass” – a true patriot who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the young Philippine Republic.
“It is just fitting that, more than a century since their exploits, these two sons of Bulacan continue to inspire succeeding generations of Filipinos to cherish the liberties and freedoms that they bled and fought for,” he said.
“I therefore consider it a great honor to bestow upon them – through their kin who are with us today – the Order of Lapu-Lapu, in recognition of their extraordinary acts of heroism that served as the foundation of this nation.”
On behalf of the Filipino people, the President conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to General del Pilar and Marcelo H. del Pilar for their heroism, as he encouraged Filipinos to honor their legacy especially as the country faces a global health crisis.
Last year, President Duterte traveled to Malabang, Lanao del Sur during Independence Day to recognize the heroism of Jose Abad Santos.
Abad Santos, considered by the President a national hero, was beheaded by the Japanese imperial army for refusing to pledge allegiance to the Japanese flag.
The country is now modern, progressive, and ever thriving, but its continued progress will only be possible if Filipinos have a strong understanding and appreciation of the liberties that they enjoy today, according to the President.
“Let us move forward in solidarity and give greater meaning to the freedom that our forebears achieved for us 123 years ago,” he said. PND