PILAR, Bataan: President Benigno Aquino III and the US and Japanese ambassadors vowed Saturday to work closer together in facing new challenges like maritime security and terrorism during the 74th commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) in town in Central Luzon.
In his speech, the President highlighted the importance of maintaining regional peace, saying that a conflict in one country affects global stability.
“The Second World War brought about much devastation, which took place not even a generation after the First World War,” Aquino said. “Through the livelihood and infrastructure destroyed; through the lives that were lost, it truly brought affected countries to their knees.”
He added, “This led me to think: What was the most important lesson we learned from World War II? It is clear: During times of chaos and disorder, any free country – even those who aren’t part of either side engaged in conflict – cannot stand idly by or remain quiet.”
The President said countries must immediately address small misunderstanding among them because once quarrels go out of hand they can result in regional or global conflagration.
“If we do not address the root of the problem, then we will certainly reach a point where the problem will worsen, until we reach the point where no country can avoid it,” he added.
The President then cited Syria as an example, noting the huge influx of refugees resulting from the ongoing civil war in that country now affects most European countries.
In war, everyone is a loser, the President said, adding those who died during World War II may have become professionals like teachers, lawyers and leaders who could have contributed to global development.
“Indeed: All nations live in, and share, one world, which is why the problems of one become the problems of all,” he said.
For his part, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa expressed his home country’s “deep remorse” for the suffering that the Japanese caused during World War II.
“I expressed our heartfelt apologies and deep sense of remorse to all who suffered during those fateful days,” he stressed. “Please allow me to bow my head once again with profound grief and sincere condolences before the souls of all who perished here.”
But he added that Japan has since become a democratic nation, a close partner and ally of the Philippines and US.
“I would like to reiterate that the path Japan has taken as a peace-loving nation in the past 70 years will remain unchanged and Japan is determined to make greater contributions to a peace and security and prosperity for the international community,” Ishikawa said. We are very pleased to continue working closely with the Philippines, United States and all of our partners that share those fundamental values such as democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law,”
The Philippines and Japan have been broadening their security cooperation at sea, as they both deal with their own respective maritime territorial disputes with an increasingly aggressive China.
The US has also been expanding its own defense cooperation with the two countries as part of its strategic “pivot to Asia.”
In his speech, US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg hailed the valor of the Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.
“I am deeply proud and humbled to be here again, to commemorate the bravery of more than 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers who fought valiantly to defend Bataan 74 years ago,” Goldberg stressed.
He added, “We are here to recognize their strength and perseverance in enduring that arduous march. We are here to pay tribute to the heroes who suffered and died here in Bataan and on the journey to Camp O’Donnell, and we are also here to remember our collective past so that we can commit to a brighter future,”
Goldberg then stressed his country’s “ironclad commitment to the Philippines,” which, he said, “has been reciprocated many times by many brave Filipinos during World War II, the wars in Korea, Vietnam and, more recently, the war against violent extremism.”
“Even as I speak, American and Filipino armed forces are working together to secure this brighter future….” Goldberg said. “Our agenda in the 21st century may include new issues and interests such as maritime security and domain awareness, the rule of law and settling disputes, especially in the South China Sea, West Philippine Sea, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, just to name a few.”
He added, “Seventy-four years ago, our three nations were locked in a deadly struggle that devastated much of the region, now we are allies, friends, and strategic partners. When our nations come together, we do so for the benefit of all.” CATHERINE VALENTE