MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday enjoined his fellow Filipinos to exhibit a “greater sense of patriotism and solidarity,” especially now that the country is still grappling with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Duterte made the call as he joined the entire nation in commemorating Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).
In his message, Duterte also hailed the front-liners whose dedication to fighting Covid-19 is worthy of imitation.
“As we continue to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, we take a moment to honor the fortitude displayed by our selfless and dedicated front-liners whose unrelenting commitment in this fight reflects the heroism of the warriors of Bataan that continues to inspire in us a greater sense of patriotism and solidarity during these trying times,” he said.
An estimated 60,000 Filipino and American troops on April 9, 1942 were taken prisoners of war by the Japanese.
They were forced to walk some 112 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac under the sun with no food and water for days. The forced march of the prisoners is known as the Death March.
Around 18,000 Filipino soldiers and 650 Americans died during the Death March due to exhaustion or were either shot or bayoneted to death.
Duterte said the “meaningful and solemn” occasion serves as a reminder of the “unyielding determination of the Filipino to prevail over all forms of adversity.”
“The valor of our forebears, which was exhibited during the defense of Bataan almost eight decades ago, has left an indelible mark in our history and shaped our indomitable spirit to rise after every fall,” he said.
Duterte was optimistic that Filipinos would be inspired by the fallen soldiers whose sacrifice “became the bedrock of our resolve to uphold our most cherished liberties.”
“May this awareness resonate among us as we strive to become worthy heirs to the nation that they fought and bled for,” he said.
‘Great sacrifice of past, modern heroes’
In a separate statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar called on his fellow Filipinos to emulate the past and modern heroes who made a “great sacrifice” for the country.
Andanar issued the statement, as he lauded the gallantry and patriotism of the fallen soldiers for the freedom the country presently enjoys.
He also praised the hard work and commitment of front-liners in the country, who he dubbed as modern heroes for displaying courage despite the risk posed by the coronavirus.
Andanar urged his fellow Filipinos to show valor by heeding the government’s call to follow the health and quarantine protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“May we be inspired by the great sacrifice of both our patriotic veterans and our modern-day heroes. Following the minimum health standards and being part of our government’s collective fight to recover and rise as one nation against this virus is how we can show valor in our own little way,” he said.
April 9 of every year, by virtue of Executive Order 203 signed in 1987, has been declared as “Araw ng Kagitingan” to honor the thousands of Filipino and American forces who fought for freedom and democracy. (PNA)