President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the National Heroes’ Day celebration that he was supposed to lead at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday because he was not feeling well.
Senator Christopher Go, Duterte’s former aide, said the President was “indisposed” and “needs to rest.”
He said Duterte stayed up until 4:30 a.m. so he had to skip the event at Taguig City.
Go also said the Chief Executive met with Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari over the weekend.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano led the 8 a.m. rites in Taguig City on Duterte’s behalf.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo allayed fears that the President is sick after he was not seen in public for a week. Duterte was just busy with paperwork and private meetings, Panelo said.
Go also assured the public that there is nothing to worry about the President’s health.
His most recent public engagement was on Aug. 21, the inauguration of a solar power project in Romblon.
Duterte is scheduled on Aug. 27 to lead the 31st year of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The following day, he will leave the country for a five-day visit to China.
Despite his absence during Monday’s event, Duterte sent a message to commemorate the holiday in honor of the country’s heroes.
He urged Filipinos to become everyday heroes and reach out to those who are in need and neglected by society in honor of those who fought for the country’s freedom and democratic ideals.
“We recognize their heroism not only by erecting statues in their honor but by uplifting the welfare of the poor and marginalized for it is through our small deeds that their spirit of valor can live on,” he said in a statement.
“I truly believe that every Filipino is a hero who can build on our vibrant legacy of fortitude and resilience,” he added.
Vice President Leni Robredo also reminded Filipinos that no one hero is above another.
She also said the solutions to the country’s problems are not in the hands of one leader.
Senator Imee Marcos on Sunday questioned if National Heroes’ Day is not actually a misnomer since in reality, and officially, the country has no heroes.
“Little do most Filipinos know that ever since the Philippines gained independence, the government has never officially proclaimed who our national heroes really are, even if it has been taught as early as grade school that the likes of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio are among them,” said Marcos,
She said the Philippine National Heroes Committee officially recommended several people for the designation in 1995, including Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang.
However, she said the issue deteriorated into a debate involving regional interests that never was resolved, Marcos said.
The only bill that sought to proclaim Rizal a national hero was filed by Bohol congressman Rene Relampagos back in 2014, she said.
As of January 2017, the bill has remained pending with the committee on revision of laws, Marcos said.
House leaders, meanwhile, called on the people to show their care for the downtrodden and to obey the law as their way of showing patriotism.
In a national heroes day message, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, said the people should express gratitude to those who fought for the country’s freedom.
“We can all be heroes in our own lives, every one of us, if we can only rise above personal interests by simply obeying the laws of the land and Constitution, such as fighting corruption, exercising defensive driving, proper disposal of garbage, and showing compassion to the needy,” Romualdez said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz