President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday the country needs more citizens like former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., in commemoration of the celebrated opposition senator’s 35th death anniversary.
“In this time of real and lasting change, we need more citizens like him, so we can steer our country towards the direction where a brighter and better future awaits us all,” said the President in a statement.
Duterte said Aquino died while fighting to restore peace and democracy in the Philippines.
“More than three decades ago, Benigno S. Aquino Jr. died while fighting to restore peace and democracy in the Philippines,” the President said. “His profound love of country has inspired a revolution that altered the course of our nation’s history and gave birth to the freedoms we enjoy today.”
He urged Filipinos to take the opportunity to reflect on the late Aquino’s sacrifice, honoring his courage and patriotism during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Aquino, who was a political prisoner during the martial law years, was assassinated on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983.
“May his dedication to his cause serve as a guidepost for our current leaders in government as they advance the welfare of our people, especially the oppressed and marginalized,” Duterte said.
“This can only be achieved if we work together to institute meaningful reforms that will put an end to the many social ills that have obstructed our path towards becoming a mature and stable democracy,” he said.
At a ceremony to mark his father’s death, former President Benigno Aquino III said he would not run for office in 2019 and would help campaign for like-minded candidates.
Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, promised that his revitalized party would work tirelessly to renew and strengthen democracy.
“We, who dream of a peaceful and prosperous Philippines, believe that only a strong democracy ensures this future for all Filipinos,” he said.
“Today, on this occasion, on this historic spot, hallowed by Liberal blood, we renew our commitment to do all these. We will build a party rooted among the people, a party that defends democracy and fights for freedom for every citizen of the Philippines,” he added.
He also recalled the Plaza Miranda bombing on Aug. 21, 1971.
“We remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice of nine fellow Liberals, and the mental and physical scars of the 95 others who were injured here, this day 47 years ago,” he said.
“We remember and respect the brave Liberal heroes who held the line and resisted the specter of dictatorial rule, for all freedom-loving Filipinos.
Today, 47 years hence, we, new Liberal Party members, vow to continue the fight,” he said.
“Thirty-five years ago, Ninoy returned home despite warnings that he could be killed. Because he wanted to be with his countrymen in fighting the dictator.
“Ninoy fought a worthy battle. He sowed the seeds that kindled action toward reclaiming our freedom and democracy,” Pangilinan said.
“Facing death unafraid, Ninoy was among the first to create the domino effect that caused the dictatorship to fall,” he added.
“Now it is upon us, the people, especially today’s youth whose future is at stake, to bring about the change that Ninoy paid for with his life. Now is the time to do our share and show how much we love our country.”