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Robredo urges Filipinos to fight modern-day threats to freedom

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo said that like the country's heroes in history, Filipinos must continue fighting threats to their freedom in the present day. 

Robredo said on Tuesday, June 12, the country's freedom has been repeatedly challenged since the proclamation of Philippine independence from Spain 120 years ago. (READ: Duterte on Independence Day: Protect democracy, cherish PH sovereignty

These include the devastation from World War II and Martial Law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. But the Vice President said Filipinos then were able to show their bravery and courage each time and were successfully able to fight for their freedom.

Now, Robredo believes Filipinos' freedom is once again being threatened. (READ: Lawmakers hope Filipino heroes will inspire youth to uphold freedom

"Sa panahon ngayon, tila humaharap na naman ang ating kalayaan sa iba't ibang mukha ng panganib: Mula sa paglaganap ng kahirapan kasabay ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin hanggang sa kawalan ng hustisya, mula sa pagsasantabi ng karapatang pantao hanggang sa pag-angkin sa ating mga teritoryo ng dayuhang puwersa," said Robredo. 

(These days, it seems our freedom is once again facing different kinds of threats: from the perennial problem of poverty and rising prices of commodities to the loss of justice, from the disregard of human rights to a foreign power claiming our country's territories.) 

DRENCHED. Vice President Leni Robredo honors the Philippine flag as the rain falls around her. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

DRENCHED. Vice President Leni Robredo honors the Philippine flag as the rain falls around her.

Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

She believes, however, that Filipinos will be able to stand up against their oppressors. 

"Sa harap ng lahat ng ito, hindi magpapatalo ang Pilipinong kilala ko. Sa halip, ang Pilipinong kilala ko ay maninindigan nang buong giting para ipaglaban ang ating kalayaan," said Robredo. 

(In the face of all these, the Filipino I know will not be daunted. Instead, the Filipino I know will bravely stand up for our freedom.)

Robredo arrived at Luneta Park with one of her staff holding an umbrella up for her. But the Vice President later ditched the umbrella as she honored the Philippine flag during the program, leaving her drenched in rain.

A day before Independence Day, the Vice President tagged China's increased militarization of the West Philippine Sea as the "most serious external threat to our country since the Second World War." The West Philippine Sea is a part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines, as affirmed by a landmark ruling of a Hague tribunal in 2016. 

Robredo also expressed concern over a GMA News documentary that caught the China Coast Guard taking the catch of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal.

She has repeatedly urged the Philippine government to file a diplomatic protest against China. But the Philippines has so far chosen to silently deal with the foreign power. (READ: Robredo alarmed over Chinese bombers in South China Sea)

THE FLAG. A man helps hold up a big Philippine flag used during the Independence Day rites in Luneta Park. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

THE FLAG. A man helps hold up a big Philippine flag used during the Independence Day rites in Luneta Park.

Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

The Vice President said she is hoping for a peaceful and progressive Philippines, where every Filipino may live with dignity.  

"Walang ibang makapagpapatotoo ng pangarap na ito kung hindi ang nagkakaisang sambayanang Pilipino. Tiwala akong taglay natin ang kapangyarihang iahon ang ating mga kababayan mula sa kahirapan, ang tapang na idiin ang paggalang sa ating mga karapatan, at ang kakayahang ipagtanggol ang kalayaan ng ating bansa mula sa samu't saring banta," said Robredo. 

(No one else can make this dream possible except for a united nation. I trust that we have the power to uplift our countrymen from poverty, the courage to stand up for our rights, and the capability to defend our country's freedom from various threats.) 

"Sa pagdiriwang natin ng kalayaan sa araw na ito, nawa'y magkaroon ng panibagong lakas ang bawat isa sa atin na isabuhay ang diwa na ipinaglaban ng ating mga bayani – ang pag-aasam sa at pagtataguyod ng isang bansang tunay na nagpapalakas sa kalayaan ng bawat Pilipino. Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan sa ating lahat!" she said.  

(As we celebrate independence on this day, may we have renewed strength to preserve the spirit that our heroes fought for – aspiring for and upholding a country that truly upholds the freedom of every Filipino. Happy Independence Day to all!) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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