President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to be everyday heroes by doing their part to achieve freedom from COVID-19.
In his speech marking the country’s 123rd Independence Day at the Bulacan Capitol Grounds in Malolos Saturday, the President also announced the construction of a “Wall of Heroes” monument at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City dedicated to medical frontliners who died battling the virus.
“The challenges of the past years attested our character as a nation. Each of us have been called upon to be heroes in our own rights in fighting for our survival and devoting ourselves to the common good just as our heroes did more than a century ago,” he said.
“Those who perished – our doctors, our nurses, our medical attendants – will be honored. Their names will be inscribed on that wall. It is now being built... Let us honor our modern-day heroes – our healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, and other frontliners who are instrumental in our fight against COVID-19. In the past year, they have risked their own lives and sacrificed their own comfort and security to ensure that our society will continue to function despite this crisis,” added the commander-in-chief.
United States President Joe Biden, in a message addressing the Filipino people, said the US and the Philippines, as allies and friends, stand shoulder-to-shoulder in combatting the pandemic as well as other mutual challenges and threats.
“As we honor this joyful of independence and friendship, let’s also look to the future, at the challenges our two countries must continue to work to take on together, from defeating this pandemic and strengthening the global preparedness for the next one, to advancing the free and open Indo-Pacific region for all peoples,” Biden said.
“The Philippines and the United States share so much history, and our people are forever connected through our deep bonds and shared sacrifices of valor, of family, and of friendship,” he added, noting the contributions of over 4 million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans living in the US.
“They make invaluable contributions to communities all across our country. They enrich the American character, making our nation stronger and more vibrant,” Biden added.
For her part, Vice President Leni Robredo marked the occasion with a call to unity amid the pandemic.
“This Independence Day is a reminder that no Filipino stands alone. We draw strength form each other. We will overcome, we will succeed, whatever the challenge of the times may be, and even in the face of a seemingly impossible situation,” she said.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the freedom paid by the blood of martyrs over a hundred years ago is now under threat as a result of the global health crisis.
“The ravages of COVID-19 have forced nations around the world, including the Philippines, to restrict the movement of their citizens as they battle the spread of the virus that has so far claimed the lives of millions of people.Many of us are unable to go to work, schools remain closed, millions have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and a lot of people can’t avail of medical care because hospitals are filled with COVID-19 patients. Indeed, some of our basic rights have been momentarily taken away due to the coronavirus,” he said.
“To win against COVID-19, we need to work together and build on our strengths, just like what our forefathers did almost a century and a quarter ago. Together, there are no challenges we can’t overcome,” the
House leader added. Meanwhile, over 30,000 jobseekers trooped to the Independence Day job fair of the Labor department, albeit online.
At least 300 of the online applicants were hired on the spot, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.