PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to “demonstrate the same courage and valor” the heroes of Bataan showed decades ago in their fight for freedom against oppression.
“Seventy-six years have passed since Filipinos and American troops fought side-by-side in defense of our democratic way of life. Immeasurable sweat, blood and tears were shed and countless lives were lost during this dark chapter in our history to ensure that our people may pursue their endeavors freely,” Duterte said in his message on the 76th year commemoration of “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor).
Duterte said it was “disquieting” that the commemoration of the event would come “at a time when the very freedoms that the heroes of Bataan fought for are once again imperiled.”
He warned against “forces who wish to see a weak and submissive Philippines [as they]continue in their unbridled disrespect for the institutions and laws that embody our aspirations as a people.”
Duterte said that it was the Filipinos’ sacred duty and obligation to defend the country’s honor.
“We owe it to our forefathers to demonstrate their gallant stand more than seven decades ago. Let the spirit of Bataan inspire us to resist any affront to our dignity and inviolable rights as a free, sovereign and independent nation,” Duterte added.
“Araw ng Kagitingan,” also known as Bataan Day, commemorates the fall of Bataan during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II. It was here that thousands of Philippine and American troops were forced to endure the 140-kilometer “Bataan Death March” to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac.
Below is the full text of Duterte’s statement:
RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA