VP, CJ, senators extol sacrifices for liberty

Top government officials marked the country’s 124th Independence Day by acknowledging the sacrifices of the past as the common thread that binds all Filipinos together and emphasizing the need to move forward as a unified nation.

MESSAGES. As Vice President Leni Robredo delivers her Independence Day message via video, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo takes the podium at the Bonifacio Shrine in Caloocan City on Sunday. Andrew Rabulan

“Every year, we commemorate the path we took to get to the moment the Philippine flag was first waved: The struggle, the names of those who sacrificed, the deep love for country,” said Vice President Leni Robredo. “This is our history, which threads together those who fought before, those who were lost, and those who were fortunate enough to witness the declaration of independence in Kawit.”

“It is a thread that can never be broken—even now, it holds together Filipinos who dream of a better life, regardless of stature, wherever in the world they may be,” she said.

But victory is not achieved without sacrifice, courage, and perseverance, she said.

“We are called to forge on, aware of all that we have had to go through as a unified nation. As ordinary citizens, there is much we can do. Be open and loving; help those in need. Affirm what is right and true and assert the truths of our history. Find inspiration in one another, and from those who came before. Stand firm on a story that can never be changed, stolen, erased— a story that binds us according to a collective past, and gives us the strength to march towards a collective future.”

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo on Sunday led the flag-raising ceremony at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City during the celebration of Independence Day.

In his speech, Gesmundo stressed the “importance of progress and individual dignity” in the Filipinos’ efforts to attain genuine freedom and independence.

“Freedom will only be meaningful if it is towards the development of the whole community and not just a few. Freedom will only be complete if every Filipino has dignity regardless of his status in life,” Gesmundo said.

The top magistrate said the judiciary is one with the nation in commemorating the 124th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence and urged everyone “to preserve and nurture the rights and the freedom that Filipinos have so gallantly fought for.”

Gesmundo also paid tribute to “every Filipino hero, whether known or unknown in the annals of Philippine history, who contributed to the country’s struggle to gain its independence.”

Senators on Sunday expressed their desire to unite the country and uplift the life of Filipinos.

Neophyte Senator Robin Padilla celebrated Independence Day at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City where he led the flag-raising ceremony.

He said Filipinos should discard divisiveness and face the country’s problems as one.

Returning Senator Francis Escudero encouraged Filipinos to be deserving of the freedom that heroes fought for.

“We are still faced with many challenges,” he said in Filipino. “The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and there are so many things left to do to bring back a stable economy. We will only succeed against these challenges if we unite as one country.”

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he hopes every Filipino will continue valuing and safeguarding independence.

“As today we remember all those who fought for, suffered, and sacrificed, some even their lives, for the independence, freedoms, and liberties we enjoy today, let us also aspire to be free from poverty, injustice, abuse, inequality, lawlessness, health, and economic crises. May we, in solidarity, all work for these so that we may achieve these within our children’s lifetime,” Pimentel said on social media.

In another social media post, Senator Grace Poe said the freedom fought for, should be remembered, and treasured as a united country while Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement that they will work to free Filipinos from poverty, hunger, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filipinos have always found a middle ground to collaborate in good faith which, Senator Risa Hontiveros said, is the true spirit of nation-building under a democracy.

“As we embark on a new administration, such as the task before us, once again: to plough and build the Philippines we, the Filipino people, deserve. A country full of promise and possibility, a country proud of her rich heritage and history, a country deeply loved by her people,” she said in a statement.

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