Duterte skips Day of Valor commemoration for his trip to China
to China to attend a conference there.
Executive Salvador Medialdea represented him in the 76th commemoration of the Day of Valor, which was also attended by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda and United States Charge d' Affaires Michael Klecheski in a ceremony.
It was Haneda's first time to attend the ceremony since he assumed his post in the Philippines last October.
Reading Duterte's message, Medialdea said Japan, which used to be the Philippines' enemy during World War II, is now the most important friend of the country now.
"Time has indeed healed all wounds and changes a lot of things. Our enemy before is now our most important friend," he said, citing JUapan is the country's top source of official development assistance and one of the top sources of investments.
As for the US, Duterte said the relations between the two countries "remain strong," noting that it remains the Philippines' "military and economic ally."
While Duterte stressed the importance of the relationship with Japan and US, he failed to grace the event, which was held in the morning as he left for Boao Forum in Asia in China in the afternoon.
In a press conference prior to his departure in Davao City airport, Duterte said he loves Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"Anyway, I just simply love Xi Jinping. He understands my problem and he's willing to help. And I'd like to say, thank you China," he said.
Contrary to his predecessor, Duterte has decided to take a softer stance with China insofar as the South China Sea dispute is concerned.
In the same speech Medialdea delivered on behalf of Duterte, he warned the Filipinos from the threat of interference by other countries.
"Another threat that we should diligently guarded against and not allow to prosper are the acts against our sovereignty and democratic processes by foreign bodies," Duterte said.
Duterte has rejected foreign assistance, which has some conditions, such as from the European Union.
Duterte said the Filipinos should remain vigilant against "new enemies that threaten our way of life."
"Our enemies today are poverty, corruption, terrorism, illegal drugs, criminality and threats against our environment. And unlike then, these are capable of creeping into the very poverty of our society," he said.
Duterte added, "It is only by constant vigilance, courage and by saving our nation from these forces that we continue to enjoy the liberty that our forebears fought for."
Meanwhile, Apolonio Labog, a guerrilla during the World War II, admitted that he is still angry with the Japanese soldiers whom they had fought with during the war.
He recalled he was hit by the Japanese soldiers when he failed to bow to them when he passed by their checkpoint in Balanga, Bataan.
The 90-year old veteran said he fought the Japanese in the mountain part of the province.
Teodoro Guzman, 93, recalled that when Bataan fell in April 1942, he was one among those who surrendered and participated in the Death March.
However, fortunately, the 93-year old war veteran was able to escape from the Death March when they reached Orion after walking for about three hours from Mariveles.
Guzman, who was one of the guards of then General Vicente Lim whose base was in Mt. Samat, narrated that he really planned to escape when they reached Orion because he knew the place.
He said the Japanese soldier who was guarding them did not notice him because the latter was about 100 persons away from him.
Except for a slap on his face due to miscommunication, he did not experience any brutality from the Japanese, he said. Celerina Monte/DMS