Rodrigo Duterte

Don’t compromise sovereignty, says Duterte on 500th year of Magellan’s arrival

Dwight de Leon
Don’t compromise sovereignty, says Duterte on 500th year of Magellan’s arrival

President Duterte led the unveiling of a physical marker in Eastern Samar on March 18, 2021 to commemorate the Philippines’ role in the first circumnavigation of the world.

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President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been criticized for compromising Philippine sovereignty to maintain good relations with China, urges Filipinos to learn from history

President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to reject attempts by foreign entities to compromise the Philippines’ sovereignty, as he led the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the completion of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish expedition.

“I therefore call on all our kababayans (countrymen) to appreciate our rich history and learn from the experiences of those that came before us so that we may never again allow any other tribe to compromise our sovereignty,” Duterte said in in Eastern Samar Thursday, March 18.

Duterte, however, has been criticized for compromising Philippine sovereignty in maintaining his good relations with China. His critics said that his decision to cozy up to Beijing came at the expense of the Philippines’ maritime territory and resources. (READ: Duterte asserts PH sovereignty to others, except China – analyst)

The President made the speech after the unveiling of a physical marker in the province to commemorate the Philippines’ role in the first circumnavigation of the world.

It is among the 34 historical markers mounted along places in the Philippines that were part of the route of the first voyage around the world started by Magellan until his death in the Battle of Mactan in 1521.  

Three centuries of Spanish colonial rule began after Magellan stepped foot in the Philippine island that year.

Duterte is one of the staunchest critics of the Spanish colonization in the Philippines, using past speeches to lament the need to commemorate the Spaniards’ arrival in the country.

“You know, they came to this country as imperialists. We are not Spanish and they subjugated us for 300 years. That’s painful for me,” Duterte said in a speech in Bisaya on September 6, 2019.

On Thursday, however, Duterte expressed hopes the commemoration would strengthen the Philippines’ diplomatic ties with Spain.

“We thank everybody, the ancestors of the Spaniards who came here. And we hope that this event goes further, fortify our relations with the Spaniards,” Duterte said.

Quincentennial commemoration

Duterte himself formed the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) in 2018, which aims to change the way the Philippines remembers the first circumnavigation of the world.

The commemoration began in 2019, corresponding to the year 1519, when Magellan began his expedition.

After his death, Juan Sebastian Elcano, captain of the ship Victoria, completed the expedition in 1521.

The NQC wanted to shy away from a ‘euro-centric’ kind of history that sees Magellan as the person who ‘discovered’ the Philippines. (READ: Lapulapu gets spotlight in Philippines’ quincentennial celebration)

The agency instead aims to highlight Lapulapu, a Mactan leader who resisted the Spaniards, and their victory at the Battle of Mactan on April 27, 1521. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.