Malacanang is not sure if the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos will be among the war veterans that President Benigno Aquino III will honor today at the 73rd Araw ng Kagitingan rites at the Shrine of Valor on Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan.
Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as “Bataan Day,” is a national public holiday. It commemorates the fall of the Bataan peninsula during World War II after months of fighting between the Philippine and United States forces against the invading Japanese.
According to Malacanang, the yearly observance commemorates the “bravery of our soldiers who fought in the name of freedom and patriotism” against the Japanese invaders.
Palace officials, however, were not sure if Marcos, who had claims to being the most bemedalled Filipino war veteran, will be among those that Aquino will commend at the event.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said they were “not aware” of any list of government-recognized war veterans with Marcos’ name on it.
He said he would “verify with the Department of National Defense if the former President’s name is included in any list of war veterans.”
Asked about Marcos loyalists’ claims to the late dictator’s heroism, Coloma said: “Such claims to heroism, if revived, may be met with renewed skepticism by those who had previously disputed these. ”
Marcos, who was president from 1966 to 1986, was an Army officer during the war.
However, it was revealed in United States government archives that he actually played little or no part in anti-Japanese activities during World War II.
Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg will be joining the President at the event.
The theme of this year’s Day of Valor commemoration is “Ipunla ang Kagitingan sa Kabataan, Ihanda ang Beterano ng Kinabukasan.”