War vets, soldiers honored for selfless service
The military and police honored veteran Filipino soldiers and the country’s security forces as they commemorated Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) on Monday. Their Commander in Chief, President Duterte, missed the ceremonies at Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar town, Bataan province, as he was leaving for China on the same day to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).
In separate statements, the Armed Forces of the Philippines emphasized how a Filipino soldier’s valor cuts across generations while the Philippine National Police said heroes sacrificing their lives for the country was an “unbroken tradition of a true Filipino valor thirsting for freedom.”
“We remember the sacrifices of our veterans, their bravery and their selfless dedication to the country’s defense. Through their gallantry, we were able to show the determination of Filipinos to stand against overwhelming odds,” Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia, AFP public affairs chief, said in the statement.
“We also salute our current crop of Filipino soldiers whose courage and selfless service have been proven in recent events against terrorists and violent extremists,” he said. “The deeds of heroism and ideals of our world war veterans will always be inculcated in the minds of our current soldiers who exhibit in their own actions the same fervor and willingness to defend our country and our people.”
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, PNP spokesperson, said the police were joining the nation in honoring Filipino soldiers “who gave their lives … so that we may all live in peace and freedom.”
“We pay respect to the heroes whose lives were sacrificed and whose blood was poured during the war in an unbroken tradition of a true Filipino valor thirsting for freedom,” Bulalacao said.
The President and the secretary of the Department of National Defense traditionally grace the Araw ng Kagitingan rites on Mt. Samat to commemorate the last stand of the Filipino and American soldiers against the Japanese in World War II.
The absence of Mr. Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana from the Araw ng Kagitingan rites on Monday was a first in many years that a President and defense secretary skipped one of the most important events commemorated by the nation.
Mr. Duterte is set to address the opening of Boao forum. He is also scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday. Lorenzana is with the President at BFA.
Lorenzana, in a statement sent to reporters, said: “Let us continue to celebrate and commemorate the valor and gallantry of our [World War II] veterans. Let us perpetuate the memory of their deeds to be emulated by future generations of Filipinos. Let us honor those who are still with us for pretty soon they will all be gone.”