Duterte leads Independence Day ceremonies in Marawi
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday led the 121st Independence Day celebration in Lanao del Sur honoring present and past patriots.
During his speech at the 6th Infantry Battalion Headquarters in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Duterte urged Filipinos to work together to preserve the gift of liberty that children deserve to inherit.
"Today, let us pay tribute to our patriots ? both from the past and the present ? by safeguarding the democratic institutions that were built from the rubble of the wars that gave rise to our heroes," he said.
"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," he added.
Duterte said while the noble heroes of the past faced the might of colonial powers, now the country is facing the modern problems of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality and illegal drugs.
"These threats, just like the threats our nation faced centuries ago, have infringed on our inalienable right to live peaceful, safe, comfortable, and meaningful lives," he said.
"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," Duterte added.
Duterte also encouraged Christians and Moros to work together, same as how they fought foreign invaders in the past.
"We come from the same stock that is why we look the same. The first Moro to kill a foreigner was Lapu-Lapu, and he killed Magellan. But if you look at it, the Christians continue the fight in other places," said Duterte.
"We may not be --- agree on religion but we know that you started and it was continued by the other Malays in the Luzon and Visayas. We are not different from each other... we all fought foreign domination," he said.
Duterte then told the Moro people to use all resources they have in the region and vowed to work on the salary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao officials when he came back.
Before his speech, Duterte also led the wreath laying at the monument of the late Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos.
He said he choose this province to celebrate Independence Day because Abad Santos was executed by the Japanese in Malabang, Lanao del Sur for refusing to cooperate with them during the invasion of the Philippines.
"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," said Duterte.
He added that the headquarters is also fitting since this is the home of the “Redskin Battalion.” This unit has been engaged in the government’s fight against the Dawiah Islamiyah, the Maute Group, and other lawless elements that continue to threaten the region.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the brave men and women of the Redskin Battalion for your bravery, selflessness service, and unconditional love of country. Your valor has indeed earned you a place among the valiant heroes who built this nation 121 years ago," he said.
Duterte was not able to raise the Philippine flag due to rains and because of a four-hour delay in his arrival.
Though the ceremony was short, he said he was glad to celebrate the event with the Moro people.
Last year, Duterte led Independence Day rites in Kawit, Cavite. Ella Dionisio/DMS