Marcos: PH won’t bow down to ‘external force’
MANILA, Philippines — On the occasion of the country’s quasquicentennial on Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. paid tribute to the patriots who fought for Philippine independence and called on Filipinos to “assert liberty day by day” in contending with challenges now facing the nation.
“The heroes of our liberation would be proud to know that we have thrown off the ‘ominous yoke of domination’ — never again to be subservient to any external force that directs or determines our destiny,” the president said in his speech at Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila.
Marcos urged the people to reflect on how far the country had come “from that transformative event” in history when revolutionary forces led by Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed independence from Spain in 1898.
“I appeal for unity and solidarity in our efforts to perfect our hard-fought freedom and achieve genuine national progress. Heeding this call will indispensably require patriotism and a strong sense of community, diligence, industry and responsibility from all our citizens,” Marcos said.
He also issued a message saying in part: “Let us assert our liberty day by day. In everything we do, let us pursue excellence and integrity with the knowledge that we are living out the visions our predecessors held on to and the comfort they toiled for.”
The president further noted in his speech that there are “corrosive, political and social conditions that make the nation not as free as we would like to profess and to believe — such as poverty, inadequate economic opportunities, disabling rather than enabling living conditions, inequality, and apathy.”
The government will “strive to remove [these] unfreedoms” and come out with “wise policies… for the full development of the Filipino,” he said.
Marcos also reaffirmed his administration’s Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028, on which he signed Executive Order No. 14 in January.
In a statement at that time, the National Economic and Development Authority said the plan aimed to “bring back the country to a high-growth trajectory and, more importantly, enable economic and social transformation for a prosperous, inclusive and resilient society.”
“I have said it before, I shall say it once more: I will be with you on that long and uphill road to achieve our dream of freedom — freedom from hunger, freedom from neglect, freedom from fear,” the president said.
Marcos was at the Luneta before his speech as he led the raising of the national colors at the Independence Flagpole across the Rizal Monument.
He was joined by first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and their sons Sandro — Simon and Vincent — and Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna.
He then placed a wreath at the monument of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, accompanied by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino and National Historical Commission of the Philippines chair Emmanuel Franco Calairo.
A downpour delayed the ceremonies which were supposed to start at 8 a.m., the time set for flag-raising rites nationwide.
The first family then proceeded to Quirino Grandstand where they watched the civic-military parade called “Parada ng Kalayaan” (Freedom Parade) — which presented, among others, personnel and vehicles of the military and other uniformed services.
Monday’s activities were guided by the theme “Kalayaan. Kinabukasan. Kasaysayan.” (Freedom. Future. History.)
Meanwhile, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte called for national solidarity in supporting “the heroes of today who continue to fight for our freedom from terrorism, criminality, corruption, and local communism.”
She also urged the public to rally behind the education sector “to enable our children and youth to break free from the dangers of armed struggle so they can realize their full potential.” Tanggol Kasaysayan, a group of history and social studies teachers, criticized Duterte’s agency, the Department of Education, for still omitting the subject of Philippine history in its proposed high school curriculum.
“[This occasion] is a reminder to the country’s teachers and students to continue the struggle against the culture of forgetting,” the group said.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez led the Independence Day ceremony at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City, where he urged Filipinos to “awaken the spirit of heroism that is within us.”
Amid Monday’s rain, Bayan, Pamalakaya, and other activist groups held protest rallies outside the consulates of China and the United States.
“There is no cause for celebration today as our territorial waters remain subjected to relentless militarization by China, while the continuing presence of the US military further erodes our national independence,” Pamalakaya spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo said.