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Bonifacio Day messages: Love your country, fight for it

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and his arch-critic, Sen. Leila de Lima, on Saturday both called on Filipinos to emulate the patriotism of Andres Bonifacio — for Duterte, to free the nation from corruption, terrorism and illegal drugs, and for De Lima, to fight oppression, violence and abuse of power.

In his message to mark the 156th birth anniversary of the leader of the revolution against Spain, Duterte said Filipinos should reflect on Bonifacio’s legacy of fighting for freedom and building a new nation.

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“The Father of the Philippine Revolution has taught us to embody patriotism and take a stand against our oppressors through the civic duties we fulfill as citizens of this great country,” he said.

“Up to this day, we are challenged to continue his revolution as we liberate ourselves from corruption, criminality, terrorism, illegal drugs and other social ills that continue to plague our society,” the President said.

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Statement from detention

In a statement from her cell in Camp Crame where she has spent more than 1,000 days in detention on drug charges, De Lima urged Filipinos to think and act bravely like Bonifacio in response to what she said was the Duterte administration’s flawed and oppressive policies.

De Lima had earned the ire of the President for investigating the so-called Davao Death Squad when she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights and also his brutal drug war as a senator.

She said she hoped that Filipinos would see the importance of speaking up when they see something wrong.

“This is the challenge that Andres Bonifacio left us,” De Lima said.

Bantayog ng mga Bayani

“Under a brutal government, under a President and his allies who twist what is right and have no word of honor, would we just accept this and turn a blind eye to their failures, abuse of the national coffers, and disrespect for our rights?” she said.

In her own Bonifacio Day message, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales hurled a question to all Filipinos: Is it really the obligation of every citizen to love the motherland?

“This calls to mind the famous saying which goes: I love my country, that’s why I hate the government,” she said.

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Quoting American writer Mark Twain, she added: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

Morales, who is also a retired associate justice of the Supreme Court, decried the “distortions of the truth as presented by the bigoted outlook on the present issues in this nation’s life.”

She did not elaborate.

“Amid the loud divergence of views and the incessant hurling of incendiary words, there is always time to listen to the whispers of the voice of principled reason. There is wisdom in sobriety. After all, truth is not measured by decibels,” she said in a speech at Bantayog ng mga Bayani during rites to honor 11 activists who had fought dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Hero’s selflessness

After saluting the Bantayog martyrs, she asked: “When will our tribe increase?”

Duterte said it was Bonifacio’s “courage and selflessness” that pushed the Philippines to become an “independent and vibrant nation that advances ever forward to the future.”

“I urge everyone to emulate his love for country in our endeavors as we bring to life the strong and progressive Philippines that he had envisioned for us all,” he said.

De Lima said Bonifacio opened the eyes of Filipinos to the truth and to fight for independence amid violence and oppression.

“He knows that if he will not act and speak up, the number of oppressed would increase and those in power would continue their abuses,” she said.

“He could have chosen to keep silent and be one of those who served at the pleasure of an oppressive regime. But he opted to fight to unchain his motherland from violence and injustice,” De Lima added.

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TAGS: Bonifacio Day, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Leila de Lima, Rodrigo Duterte
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