PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday led the entire nation in observing the 120th Philippine Independence Day at the historic balcony of Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite.
Duterte, with Cabinet officials in tow, was escorted straight to the centuries-old Aguinaldo Mansion, now a national shrine and museum managed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), and foregoes the military arrival honors and wreath-laying ceremonies due to rains.
The President, assisted by Cavite officials, led the flag-raising as a crowd gathered at the shrine’s frontage and Freedom Park sang the Philippine National Anthem.
The site came to be known as the “cradle of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence” when on June 12, 1898, the country’s First Republican president, General Emilio Aguinaldo, declared the country’s independence from the Spanish colonial government.
In a speech, Duterte said he felt “honored and privileged” to lead national, provincial and local officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps “in honoring and remembering our forebears who fought for our sovereignty and established a Filipino nation that shall forever inspire us to cherish the freedoms all of us enjoy today.”
“Although the generation now and those who will come after us may never be able to pay in full the debt that we owe to the heroes that founded this nation, the least that we can do is to see to it that the sacrifices they made, so that we may enjoy these freedoms, were indeed worth it,” Duterte said.
The President also called on every Filipino to draw strength from the lessons of our past as we face the ‘enemies that attack from within’ – the modern day challenges that Filipinos face today, such as poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality and illegal drugs.
“I have made it my personal mission to rid our nation of these ills, but I cannot do it alone,” the President said, as he vowed that the past lessons will help ensure that these ills do not cause any more damage to our future during this crucial juncture in history.
Duterte highlighted his administration’s efforts to get rid of graft and corruption, stop illegal drugs and talk to the enemies of the state, some of his campaign promises that he is bent to fulfill.
Duterte, who was formally introduced by NHCP Chair Dr. Rene R. Escalante, led Tuesday’s flag raising ceremony while town mayor Angelo Jarin Aguinaldo led the oath of allegiance to the flag.
The 120th Independence Day program started with a prayer, led by Rev. Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista or the Archdiocese of Imus before everyone was warmly welcomed by Provincial Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Cavite First District Congressman Francis Gerald A. Abaya read excerpts of the declaration of the Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 at “Cavite el Viejo” (now known as Kawit), where the national flag was officially hoisted and independence from Spanish colonization was declared by Aguinaldo.
The President also paid his respects to the first President of the Philippine Republic and spent a few moments at Aguinaldo’s monument.
Independence Day activities lined up by the NHCP and the Provincial Government of Cavite also included job and trade fairs, cultural presentation, musical play, on-the-spot poster making contest at the Aguinaldo Freedom Park from day ‘till night, including the opening of Pito-Pito exhibit at the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo, which runs until June 19.