MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte lauded the heroism of both Filipino and American soldiers who fought in Bataan in 1942 during the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan on Tuesday.
Today, we remember the heroism of the brave Filipino and American soldiers who stood side by side in the mountains and jungles of Bataan in defense of our liberty and democracy, Duterte said in his message.
We also remember the countless civilians who aided our forces so they could offer a valiant defense against the overwhelming force of the enemy, he added.
Duterte, meanwhile, reminded Filipinos to take inspiration from Filipino war veterans and uphold the country's sovereignty.
As we hold this solemn observance, it is my hope that we will all be inspired to remain steadfast like our forefathers and their allies in upholding our sovereignty and in protecting the rights and freedoms that our people enjoy today, Duterte said in his message.
The President said that although the government would not be able to memorialize all war veterans, it will honor what he described as their epic struggle and unshakable fortitude.
I join our veterans, allies and the rest of the Filipino people in commemorating Araw ng Kagitingan, Duterte said.
May we all have a meaningful celebration, he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, for his part, described the event as the highest form of love of country when Filipino and American troops offered their lives in the liberation of the Philippines during World War II.
Thousands perished from physical abuse, exhaustion, disease and starvation during this dark chapter of our history so that we, the future generations, may live to enjoy the blessings of peace and freedom, Panelo said.
Modern day heroes
Panelo, meanwhile, said heroism is not confined to valor in combat or physical courage, citing modern day Filipino heroes who went above and beyond their call of duty.
In this day and age, heroes can be the teachers whose devotion to their noble profession shape the future of the nation, the police officers who lose their lives in the war against illegal drugs, the government workers who work overtime and refuse to engage in bribery or corruption or the Filipino scientists who conduct the first scientific research in the Philippine Rise, Panelo said.
Indeed, the modern-day Filipino hero of today can be anyone who serves as an inspiration by going above and beyond their call of duty and whose positive influence is worthy of emulation in making a difference in our society, he added.
Panelo enjoined Filipinos to make the occasion a motivation to unite for the betterment of the country and people and set aside differences as the nation continues to fight against drugs, crime, corruption, poverty and terrorism.
After 93 days of resistance, Filipino and American soldiers fighting war against well-armed Japanese soldiers in Bataan were forced to surrender to the superior force in April 9, 1942.
The Japanese imprisoned some 60,000 Filipino and American troops and made them walk around 112 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac under the sun, with no food and water for days in what is known as the Death March.
By virtue of Executive Order 203, s. 1987, April 9 of every year is Araw ng Kagitingan. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency