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Duterte skips Bonifacio rites; Palace cites his Mindanao sked

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana delivers a speech in Thursday’s rites marking the 154th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City. —Niño Jesus Orbeta

President Duterte skipped Thursday’s commemoration of the 154th birthday of Andres Bonifacio, known as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Mr. Duterte had a commitment in Mindanao and was going to a “conflict-ridden area.”

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In Mr. Duterte’s stead, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Vice President Leni Robredo led the celebration at the Bonifacio National Shrine in Monumento, Caloocan City.

They were joined by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan, Representatives Edgar Erice and Dale Malapitan and National Historical Commission of the Philippines chair Rene Escalante.

Lorenzana led the customary wreath-laying at the shrine while representatives of various sectors read Bonifacio’s “Dekalogo,” a list of the duties and responsibilities followed strictly by members of his revolutionary organization, the Katipunan.

Follow in hero’s footsteps

In his speech, Lorenzana called on Filipinos to follow in the footsteps of Bonifacio, who led the armed campaign for Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule and “provided the revolutionary spark for the Filipino people.”

“In our battles against today’s challenges, may we draw inspiration from Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunero and the revolutionary who sparked hope for the Filipino,” Lorenzana said.

“[Like him,] may we also live our lives with the ideals of valor, patriotism and love of country,” he added.

In an interview, Mayor Malapitan stressed that Bonifacio’s legacy lived on in the continued fight against crime, poverty and illegal drugs.

“We must continue our fight against the illnesses that plague the nation so that we may fully be liberated and thus truly honor Bonifacio’s memory,” he said.

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Present at the event were some of Bonifacio’s descendants, including Francisco Camacho, who said they were grateful that the nation continued to honor their forefather’s legacy.

War on drugs

But if Bonifacio were alive today, he would surely be disappointed that Filipinos were dying at the hands of his countrymen, said Paolo Bonifacio, Procopio Bonifacio’s fifth-generation grandson.

He was referring to President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, which has killed thousands of mostly poor drug users.

“Before, Bonifacio fought against colonialism, but now the violence comes from within the government instead,” said the 20-year-old public administration major from the University of the Philippines.

“[That’s why] we need to be more critical and vigilant of our current state of affairs,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

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TAGS: 154th birthday, Andres Bonifacio, Bonifacio rites, Father of the Philippine Revolution, President Duterte
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