President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday urged Filipinos to follow the example of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in protecting freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
“Let his example guide us as we strive to uplift and protect the most vulnerable in our society and ensure that all Filipinos will enjoy the blessings of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” Duterte said in his message in commemoration of Aquino’s death 36 years ago.
Vice President Leni Robredo cited the sacrifices of those who died to fight for freedom during martial law under the Marcos regime.
“Thousands of Filipino fell during the dark years of the dictatorship, resisting till their last breath the cruelty and corruption it brought,” she said.
The Commission on Human Rights called on the Filipino people “to be like Ninoy.”
“As we celebrate Ninoy Aquino Day, let us remember his readiness to suffer and sacrifice in order to light the torch of freedom,” the agency said in its Facebook post.
Duterte said Aquino could serve as a model for government workers and the youth to render public service with honor, integrity and purpose.
He recognized the late senator’s role in restoring the Philippines’ democratic institutions.
“His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people,” Duterte said.
Aquino, who fiercely opposed the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was murdered on Aug. 21, 1983 upon his arrival at the Manila International Airport. It was later renamed after him in his honor and the anniversary of his death is commemorated as a national holiday.
“Today, we remember Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and his important role in restoring our democratic institutions more than three decades ago. His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people,” Duterte said.
“May this auspicious occasion remind us of what we had lost so that we may remain committed to our solemn duty to safeguard the freedoms that we now enjoy.”
Aquino’s death sparked the People Power Revolution of 1986 and catapulted his wife Corazon to the presidency.
Early this month, Duterte said the late President Corazon Aquino was only popular today because her husband had died.
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In his message to the public, Duterte said much had to be done to solve the ills that had been besetting the country even during Aquino’s time.
“Despite our gains in these past three years, there is still a lot that needs to be done if we are to completely eradicate the poverty, corruption, and injustice that had plagued our nation even during Ninoy’s time,” Duterte said. With Rio N. Araja
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