Duterte on Independence Day: Use courage of heroes to battle COVID-19

Pia Ranada
Duterte on Independence Day: Use courage of heroes to battle COVID-19
Air Force helicopters drop confetti and flowers over Rizal Park to commemorate the heroism of medical frontliners during the pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to emulate the courage of the nation’s heroes to overcome the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over a thousand lives in the country.

“As we wage a united battle against COVID-19, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate that we possess the same gallantry of spirit and the nobility of character as the heroes of our past,” said Duterte in a taped message on Friday, June 12, as the country celebrated the 122nd Philippine Independence Day.

“Let us now move forward with courage, hope, and optimism as we overcome this pandemic,” he added.

His message was aired during the Independence Day ceremony at Rizal Park and was streamed on Facebook.

Duterte made mention of Philippine heroes who contributed to the birth of the Philippines as in independent and democratic nation.

“Today, we honor them for their bravery, heroism, and sacrifice, as well as we thank them for the gifts of democracy and freedom,” said the President.

Duterte gave this message as many Filipinos took to social media and the streets to urge him to junk the anti-terror bill, which is seen as a great threat to Philippine democracy and civil liberties.

First commemoration during pandemic

This year’s Independence Day is the first major non-religious Philippine holiday to take place during the coronavirus pandemic.

COMMEMORATION DURING PANDEMIC. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno witness the laying of a wreath at the Rizal Shrine. Malacañang photo

TRIBUTE TO HEALTH WORKERS. Flowers from a flower and confetti drop, done to commemorate the heroism of health workers, are spread out on the floor of the shrine. Malacañang photo

Officials attending the event at Luneta all wore masks with their traditional barong. The ceremonial guards and other guests even wore masks with the colors and emblems of the Philippine flag.

The Rizal Park ceremony was led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, designated by Duterte as his representative. Duterte was still in Davao City when the early morning ceremony was held.

Also with Medialdea was Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who was also in barong and mask.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who had attended all past Independence Day events at the Luneta under the Duterte administration, was not among the officials.

Meanwhile, the heroism and sacrifice of medical frontliners was commemorated through a ceremonial confetti and flower drop by two Philippine Air Force helicopters that flew over the park.

Flower petals and confetti rained down on the ceremony as officials faced the Philippine flag and statue of national hero Jose Rizal.

As of June 10, 33 health workers have died from COVID-19. In total, the virus has affected 2,808 medical frontliners. Of these, 1,111 are still “active” cases while 1,664 have recovered. – Rappler.com


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.