NEW YORK CITY (PNA via PLDT) -– President Benigno S. Aquino III cited on Monday the Filipinos’ indomitable spirit which he said was key in giving them the ability and resiliency to withstand everything the world may throw at them and still rise above it all.
In his speech following his conferment as an Honorary Doctor of Laws at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus in Bronx, here, the President said this Filipino spirit has given them “a fresh start” to pick up the pieces of past mistakes and start anew.
“I am here to represent a people who were not given, but rather, who gave themselves, a fresh start,” the President said.
He said that despite the hardships encountered during the Martial Law years, the Filipino chose to assert the “primacy of conscience” and stood up for his rights against a dictator.
“When my father was murdered, “Ninoy, you are not alone,” precisely became the rallying cry of my countrymen. Within three years, Filipinos from all walks of life defied truncheons and tanks armed only with a conscientious objection to dictatorship, and literally, a death-defying desire to uphold the principle that our social contract cannot tolerate anyone being above the law,” the President said.
He added that the Filipinos determination to stand firm on their democratic ideals was once more put to the test when it condemned the previous administration’s move to subvert democracy in order to remain in power.
“My predecessor, facing questions on her legitimacy, focused on keeping herself in power, to the exclusion of all other considerations,” the President said.
“In both cases, those who had grown fat on the corrupt status quo funded and supported efforts to subvert democracy; and in both cases, despite it all, the Filipino renewed their social contract with each other and stood firm in their democratic ideals,” he added.
The President said he was proud that the Filipino has remained true to himself and chose the right path to true democracy.
“You make me proud for you have remained true to yourselves. Whether at home or abroad, the Filipino stands for something, by holding fast to democracy, by working mightily for reform, it can well and truly be said, there is no corner of the world where a Filipino cannot hold their head high,” the President said.
“It is said of Filipinos that their hospitality and generosity knows no bounds. And it is with that sense of paying it forward that I am here in the United States, to share the lessons – hard earned, but in the earning, so much more cherished and uncompromising — that we have learned in keeping government open and transparent. We have had our periods of darkness, but now we are living in the light,” he added.
“Let no one doubt that where the citizenry is unafraid to take its leaders to task, and who participate in nation-building, there you have a nation of empowered citizens cognizant of why government exists. And that is to alleviate the suffering of our countrymen. By means of being empowered, our fellow citizens will not only identify the problems we face, but will commit to being part of the solution, and by so doing, seize the better future we all deserve,” the President said.