CASIGURAN, Aurora: Today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will do what has never been done before to mark Independence Day —plant a flag underwater.
A Philippine flag made of fiberglass will be planted by divers of the Philippine Navy on the underwater plateau of the Philippine Rise, (Benham Rise) to commemorate the country’s 119th Independence Day.
The flag rotates depending when buffeted by strong currents.
The military said the event is historic because the flag will also serve as a marker to symbolize the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the rise.
The United Nations approved the Philippines’ claim to the 13 million-hectare area located east of Luzon in 2012.
President Rodrigo Duterte renamed the area Philippine Rise following the controversial sightings of Chinese vessels in the area last year. Military officials said the ships stayed in Benham Rise for three months.
Duterte later admitted that he allowed the Chinese ships to pass through, but security officials said the vessels could have conducted surveys there.
Aside from the fiber glass flag, 36 Philippine flags will be unfurled in various areas near the Philippine Rise.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is expected to visit the Philippine Rise on June 15.
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to preserve sovereignty and propel the country to greatness and prosperity.
In his Independence Day message, the President said Filipinos should take inspiration from their forebears “who valiantly fought and offered their lives so that we may have the liberties we enjoy today.”
“I join the entire Filipino nation in celebrating the 119th anniversary of the proclamation of the Philippine Independence. The journey to freedom was a long and arduous one—which our countrymen paid for with blood, sweat and the ultimate act of selfless sacrifice,” he said.
“More than a century ago, thousands have laid down their lives so that we may live with the dignity and rights befitting a free nation. But despite the insurmountable hardships, the patriotism and undaunted spirit of the Filipino led to our triumph against the shackles of slavery and abuse Let us pay homage to their heroism by preserving our sovereignty and performing our civic rights and responsibilities,” Duterte added.
“It is our inherent duty as citizens to ensure that the Philippines fulfills its destiny as a great and prosperous nation,” the President said.
Duterte and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will lead Independence Day celebrations on Monday.
In her message, Robredo said Filipinos should learn from the battle for independence.
“Our history should serve as our guiding light, especially at this time when our soldiers are still in the thick of battle [against Maute Group]in Marawi,” Robredo said in her radio show, BISErbisyong Leni.