President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday called on Filipinos to reflect on the sacrifice of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., as he expressed hope that the life of the former senator will move government workers “to serve with honor, integrity and purpose.”
The nation on Wednesday observed Ninoy Aquino Day, which marks the assassination of the former senator at the Manila International Airport.
In his message, Duterte hailed Aquino’s “important role in restoring our democratic institutions more than three decades ago.”
“His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people,” he added.
The President said marking Aquino’s death “should remind us of what we had lost so that we may remain committed to our solemn duty to safeguard the freedoms that we now enjoy.”
“I also hope that Ninoy’s remarkable life as a public servant will move my fellow government workers to serve with honor, integrity and purpose as well as inspire our youth to be of service to their country and fellowmen,” he added.
Halfway into his six-year term, Duterte acknowledged that much has to be done to solve the ills that beset the Philippines, the same problem that plagued the country during Aquino’s time.
“Despite our gains in these past three years, there is still a lot that needs to be done if we are to completely eradicate the poverty, corruption and injustice that had plagued our nation even during Ninoy’s time,” the President said.
“Let his example guide to as we strive to uplift and protect the most vulnerable in our society and ensure that all Filipinos will enjoy the blessings of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he added.
Aquino, father of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, was the top political opponent of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
He was a political prisoner during the Marcos regime, but was allowed to seek treatment in the United States in 1980 after he suffered a heart attack.
The senator returned to the country on Aug. 21, 1983 only to be assassinated at the tarmac of the airport.
Aquino’s wife Corazon led the democratic opposition and eventually rose to the presidency after a military-backed civilian uprising toppled the strongman on Feb. 25, 1986.
Meanwhile, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo recalled how Aquino’s death “inspired a movement” that put an end to the “rapacious” Marcos regime.
“It was the defining moment for an entire generation — a moment that would inspire a movement that would ultimately bring down the dictator three years later, and bring about a restoration of the freedom Ninoy had given up his life and liberty fighting for,” she said.
“When we celebrate the 21st of August, it is not just Ninoy Aquino we remember, but all those like him, both the nameless and the heralded, who gave of themselves so that we could be free,” she added.
The vice president also warned against attempting to revise history.
“These days, it has become fashionable among certain quarters to dismiss the significance of Ninoy’s sacrifice, or worse, to question the validity of the movement it inspired. These days, there are those who insist, out of self-interest or ignorance, that the Marcos regime ‘was not so bad after all,’ pushing a revised version of history that is not only dishonest but dangerous,” said Robredo.
“Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,” she added.
WITH GLEE JALEA