VICE President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo led other government officials in a simple ceremony commemorating the 154th birth anniversary of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City on Thursday.
However, many were surprised why the vice president was not given a chance to speak before the thick crowd.
Caloocan Public Information Officer Nolan Sison was quick to explain that the city government had nothing to do with the preparation and invitation of the guest of honor and speaker.
Sison said the National Historical Commission supervised and organized the Bonifacio Day programs and activities.
He spoke out after students, city residents and members of the media asked him why Robredo, the highest official of the land during the event, was not given time to speak.
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan delivered the opening remarks where he boasted of the 20-percent decrease in the crime rate in the city and various programs and projects, including the Tutuban-Clark railway and the opening of the new “Big Dome” on December 8.
It was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who served as the guest of honor and speaker, and talked about the “untold and true story” of Andres Bonifacio.
Aside from the three officials, also present in the rites were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, National Historical Commission Director Ludovico Badoy and Gregorio Bonifacio, a relative of Andres Bonifacio.
President Rodrigo Duterte did not attend the ceremony and opted to visit Mindanao.
‘Face today’s challenges’
Lorenzana called on Filipinos to draw inspiration from Bonifacio’s legacy of freedom.
“In our battle against today’s challenges, may we get inspiration from Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan and the revolution that is part of [the history]of the Filipino people,” Lorenzana said.
“May we also live our everyday lives with valor, patriotism and nationality left by Andres Bonifacio,” he added.
The Defense chief said Filipinos should be reminded of Bonifacio’s words “Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya, sa pagkadalisay, sa pagkadakila, gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa, aling pag-ibig pa (What love can be purer and greater than love of country? What other love)?”
‘Bonifacio taught us how to use freedom’
Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commanding general of the Philippine Army, said Bonifacio was not only a fighter for the country’s freedom, but also taught Filipinos how to use it.
“Gat Andres Bonifacio is a hero to all of us not only because he fought for our freedom, but because he also taught us how to use the hard-won freedom in the best interests of our country and people,” Bautista said in a statement.
“As we pay tribute to Gat Andres Bonifacio, let us instill this culture of heroism and go beyond our call of duty as we serve the people and secure the land,” he added.
Bautista was among the major military service commanders who attended the wreath-laying ceremony and commemorative program in Caloocan City.
In Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, the headquarters of the Philippine Army, a wreath-laying ceremony was also held and attended by Nerizza Distrito-Gaco, a descendant of Bonifacio.
“As protectors of the people and the state, the army personnel once again rekindled the heroism that Gat Andres Bonifacio displayed during the Philippine Revolution, an ordinary Filipino who is ready to respond to the call of duty,” Bautista said.
with DEMPSEY REYES