Let’s unite like our heroes did, Aquino urges Filipinos
SANTA BARBARA, Iloilo—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday urged his countrymen in an Independence Day speech in this historic town to show the same unity that the Filipino heroes of the revolution against Spain displayed in booting out colonizers.
Mr. Aquino extolled the heroism of Filipino revolutionaries who led the country’s fight for freedom. He also said his administration had worked to reestablish “a government that truly works for its people and truly represents their concerns.”
He gave as examples the completion of infrastructure projects in Iloilo and the recent creation of the Negros Island Region, which he said would make more efficient the delivery of services to the people of Negros.
The President said Independence Day was celebrated in Iloilo to emphasize that the country’s freedom was fought throughout the archipelago.
He said the separate islands, the difficult transportation and the lack of technology for fast communication did not prevent Filipinos from working together to fight for their freedom.
“Nevertheless, in 1898, despite these limitations, the Filipino people stood in solidarity and, together, declared independence as one Philippine nation,’’ Mr. Aquino said.
“This serves as proof that, even back then, Filipinos could clearly tell right from wrong, and that their response to such a situation was to choose the side of right.”
Mr. Aquino said the country had freed itself from the “bonds of colonizers” but now faced “a new challenge” —fighting corruption and poverty.
“It is clear: It is through unity that our heroes won our freedom and it is also through unity that we will overcome the challenges of today.”
The President said he planned to celebrate Independence Day in Mindanao next year after holding the same ceremony in Kawit, Cavite province, in 2011; at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan province, in 2012; at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila in 2013; and in Naga, Camarines Sur province last year.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. thanked Mr. Aquino for bringing the Independence Day celebration to the province—the first time it was held in the Visayas.
It was in Santa Barbara where the revolutionary government of the Visayas was established on Nov. 17. 1898, and the Philippine flag was first unfurled outside Luzon.
Defensor said the idea germinated in 2011 after the remains of Visayan revolutionary Gen. Martin Delgado were transferred to Santa Barbara.
“Mr. President, your decision to celebrate Independence Day in Iloilo is a clear indication that you care for independence, freedom and democracy,’’ Defensor said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said in his speech that “the best way to honor (the heroes’) legacy is to unite and bring our country to its development goals on the wings of good governance.”
In Kawit, Cavite, 13 members of the activist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog were arrested for staging a rally at an Independence Day celebration. They face charges of illegal assembly.
Carmona Police Chief Insp. Mark Laygo said the group tried to disrupt the program at the Aguinaldo Shrine as the guest, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, was speaking.
In her speech, Robredo spoke of the challenges facing the nation. She likened the country to the village of Punta Tarawal in Camarines Sur, where people kept their hopes alive despite the natural calamities they had been through.
The program ended with an annual job fair at the Kawit plaza. A job fair was also held in Calamba City, Laguna.
In Legazpi City, militants staged a peaceful protest at Peñaranda Park.
Jerahmeel Micah Serrano of Bicolana Gabriela Youth Albay denounced the insufficient budget for education that forced her to stop schooling for two years. She is now studying in a private college, paying tuition as a student assistant.