Sri Lanka celebrates 66th Independence Day

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(From left) Ma. Angela Ponce, director, Asia and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Bernardita Catalla, executive director, Asia and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Menashe Bar- On, Embassy of Israel; Ambassador Roberto Mayorga, Embassy of Chile; Ambassador John Gomes, Embassy of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh; Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Apostolic Nuncio; H.M.G.R.R.K. Wijeratne Mendis, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Sri Lanka; D.E.W. Gunasekera, Minister of Human Resources and Special Envoy of Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka; Evan Garcia, undersecretary for Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs; Lionel Fernando, adviser to the Minister of Human Resources; Ambassador Ndateni Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, Embassy of South Africa; Alfonso Tagliaferri, Charge d’Affaires, of the Embassy of Italy

(From left) Ma. Angela Ponce, director, Asia and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Bernardita Catalla, executive director, Asia and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Menashe Bar- On, Embassy of Israel; Ambassador Roberto Mayorga, Embassy of Chile; Ambassador John Gomes, Embassy of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh; Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Apostolic Nuncio; H.M.G.R.R.K. Wijeratne Mendis, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Sri Lanka; D.E.W. Gunasekera, Minister of Human Resources and Special Envoy of Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka; Evan Garcia, undersecretary for Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs; Lionel Fernando, adviser to the Minister of Human Resources; Ambassador Ndateni Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, Embassy of South Africa; Alfonso Tagliaferri, Charge d’Affaires, of the Embassy of Italy

TO commemorate the political independence of Sri Lanka from British rule, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Philippines celebrated the nation’s 66th Independence Day on February 4.

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The affair was held at the official residence of the Embassy of Sri Lanka’s Charge d’ Affaires, Madam H.M.G.R.R.K. Wijeratne Mendis, who is concurrently acting ambassador to the Philippines.

The ambassadors of Spain, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Israel and Chile, and other members of the diplomatic corps joined the intimate celebration, which included a flag-raising ceremony, a symbolic cake-cutting, and Sri Lankan performances to highlight the country’s diverse culture and artistry.

Also present at the celebration was Sri Lankan senior minister for Human Resources D. E. W. Gunasekara, who visited Manila from February 4 to 7 on official business.

In her opening speech, the Charge d’ Affaires recalled the struggles of their country, and was proud of their government for defeating political instability and continually uplifting its economic state.

“Sri Lanka celebrates the 66th anniversary of its National Day at a time when the country has achieved remarkable development in the socioeconomic and cultural spheres, under the visionary leadership of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government,” she stated.

“With the defeat of terrorism in May 2009 which was thought unachievable, normalcy returned to the country. That enabled the country to embark on many development projects that yield far-reaching benefits to the country and its people.”

Sri Lanka declared its Independence Day on February 4, 1948. As a tradition the flag of Sri Lanka remains hoisted in all government buildings around the world for a period of one week during the annual celebration.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia, in speaking on behalf of the Philippines, congratulated Sri Lanka for the milestone and thanked the nation for its continued aid and support for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which struck Central Visayas in November 2013.

Moreover, he significantly noted, “We are also celebrating 53 years of long-lasting ties with Sri Lanka. They have extended their assistance in different issues such as the Bangsamoro Agreement, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda and its reconstruction and rehabilitation program.”

In response, Charge d’ Affaires Wijeratne Mendis expressed, “We wish to see our ties expanding into increased cooperation in the areas of trade, economic and tourism sectors for the mutual benefit of both countries.

“I am confident that in the years to come, Sri Lanka under the leadership of his Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse and the Philippines under His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, will promote these bonds to greater heights,” she concluded.

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