Robredo on Rizal Day: ‘Bravely defend the rights of Filipinos’

Mara Cepeda
Robredo on Rizal Day: ‘Bravely defend the rights of Filipinos’
Vice President Leni Robredo says Jose Rizal's life and work 'brought hope to those in despair and courage to those living in fear'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo reminded Filipinos the courage of Jose Rizal to speak the truth and fight for freedom despite adversities, as the country remembers the death of the national hero on Friday, December 30.

“Dr Rizal’s life is testament to the fundamental importance and liberating power of education. His legacy is a continuing reminder that it is the duty of every Filipino to find the courage to always speak truth and unfailingly safeguard the freedom of its people,” Robredo said in a statement. 

“Let us stand united in the face of adversities and bravely defend the rights of our fellow Filipinos as we celebrate his memory and legacy,” Robredo added. 

Robredo, who has openly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte, has become the symbol of the political opposition.

She was absent at the ceremony led by Duterte on Friday to commemorate Rizal at the Luneta Park in Manila, where the national hero was executed for fighting the Spanish colonial rule.

Robredo was forced to resign from her post as Duterte’s housing chief after she was barred from attending Cabinet meetings. (READ: Leni: The new, ‘default’ face of the opposition)

The Palace said that Duterte and Robredo had “irreconcilable differences.” In an interview on Thursday, December 29, Duterte accused Robredo of attending rallies that called for his ouster, which she denied.

She has been strongly opposing some of Duterte’s major thrusts and decisions, including the ongoing bloody war against drugs, the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the reimposition of the death penalty, and his sexual attacks against women. 

Robredo said Filipinos emulate Rizal, who always inspired courage.

“We celebrate the life of Dr Jose P. Rizal, and remember his contribution to the Filipino people. His life and work have brought hope to those in despair and courage to those living in fear,” Robredo said. 

“Today, we honor his sacrifice as we learn by his example, and emulate his love for our country,” she added.

Other leaders have given their messages for Rizal Day as well. Duterte wants Filipinos to become heroes in their own way by effecting change in society in line with his war on poverty, crime, and corruption. 

Senators, meanwhile, want Filipinos to continue fighting for the freedom that Rizal died for.

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.