Help gov’t on reforms, Aquino urges Filipinos

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President Aquino on Wednesday urged Filipinos to continue helping his administration strive “for more meaningful and lasting reforms” to bolster efforts to lift the nation to “greater heights.”

At the traditional vin d’honneur marking the 115th anniversary of Philippine Independence, Aquino also asked the international community to “continue working with us in realizing the full potential of the Filipino people and in finding solutions to the challenges that we collectively face.”

The President offered the traditional toast “to the future and continued success of the Filipino people.”

“May the examples of our heroes be our guide as we tread the straight path to equitable progress,” he said at the reception in Malacañang’s Rizal Hall.

Former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos were again absent from the event. They were also no-shows during the New Year’s Day vin d’honneur on Jan. 11.

Leading the guests were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Loren Legarda and Franklin Drilon, Senator-elect Sonny Angara, Senator Manny Villar and his spouse, Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, Lance Gokongwei, Inquirer president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez and spouse, Philip Romualdez, and Inquirer chairperson Marixi Rufino-Prieto.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. was also present, but noticeably absent was Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing.

Nation-building

Aquino said Filipinos had “the sacred responsibility of protecting and fulfilling the promise of liberty.”

“Today, as one nation, we reaffirm this commitment. Just as our heroes and martyrs paid the ultimate price for our freedom, as Filipinos, each and every one is asked to do his part in building an even more progressive nation,” he said.

Everyone has a role to play in nation-building whether one is in the highest rank of government or an employee in a local company or an overseas Filipino worker, the President said.

“As we focus our efforts on lifting our nation to greater heights, let us remember that it is by being productive and responsible citizens—by performing our tasks to the best of our abilities and by giving to our fellow men their due—that we contribute to making our society truly more just and more equitable,” he said.

Turning to the diplomatic corps composed of ambassadors, along with aid donors, the President said his administration would renew its “collective pledge to foster an international environment of positive engagement.”

Apostolic Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto, the dean of diplomatic corps, expressed appreciation for the “excellent results delivered by the executive in the economic sphere, in view of an inclusive growth, by creating the employment opportunities and reducing poverty.”

He also welcomed the framework agreement on Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Oct. 15, 2012.

“The journey toward the full implementation of the legal instrument, with the anticipated conclusion of the annexes, coincides with the path to a better understanding and intensification of dialogue between religions and cultures,” he said.

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