Duterte to Filipinos: Fight apathy and divisiveness like Rizal did

Mara Cepeda
Duterte to Filipinos: Fight apathy and divisiveness like Rizal did
President Rodrigo Duterte leads the Rizal Day rites in Davao City

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to keep nationalism alive by combatting the “challenges of apathy and divisiveness” that national hero Jose Rizal died for over a century ago.

This was Duterte’s message as the nation commemorated the 123rd death anniversary of Rizal on Monday, December 30. 

“Let us keep the embers of nationalism alive as we courageously face the challenges of apathy and divisiveness, and triumph over them just like what Rizal tenaciously did more than 120 years ago,” Duterte said. 

“Together, let us strengthen and protect our liberty that our heroes have so unselfishly shed their blood for,” he added.

On Monday morning, the President led the Rizal Day rites in Davao City, where he lay a wreath of flowers under the national hero’s shrine there. 

He was joined by his children, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez. 

Just 10 days before Rizal Day, Duterte had ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines on December 20 to perform daily military drills honoring Rizal. The President said he wants the drills done even if the people would ignore it. 

Rizal was only 35 years old when he was executed in Bagumbayan, Manila – what is now the Luneta Park – for the crime of rebellion under the Spanish colonial rule. He published his famous anti-Spanish colonial era novel Noli Me Tangere at age 25, and its sequel, El Filibusterismo, when he was 30.

Duterte hopes Rizal’s love of country would be emulated by young Filipinos today. (READ: If Rizal were alive today, how would he tweet?) 

“May his shining example to always think of the greater good be emulated by generations of our youth who look up to him today,” Duterte said in the same sentiment. 

“May the freedom we now enjoy as a people be cherished, be further fortified, and be kept thriving through the solidarity that we show in combatting the ills of illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality,” the President added. 

In 2018, Duterte skipped the Rizal Day rites in Davao City after doctors advised him to rest. – Rappler.com

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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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.