By ARGYLL GEDUCOS
President Duterte has called on Filipinos to continue national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s fight for a better Philippines.
“More than a century ago, Rizal inspired a movement that gave rise to the Filipino national identity. During that dark chapter in our nation’s history, his writings served as the light that guided our forebears in the fight for genuine equality and independence,” Duterte said.
“As an author and as a scholar, he denounced the corruption, greed, and other social ills that up to this day continue to plague our society. Even in death, he imparted upon us his aspirations for a nation that is free from the scourge of injustice, tyranny, and suffering,” he added.
The President led the national commemoration of the 121st death anniversary of Rizal at the Rizal National Monument in Rizal, Park yesterday morning.
Arriving on schedule, Duterte was accorded with full military honors. He was joined by Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor and former President Joseph Estrada.
Other officials who joined in the commemoration of Rizal’s martyrdom were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chair Rene Escalante, Acting Exec. Dir. Ludovico Badoy, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Duterte, after spearheading the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies, met with the descendants of the country’s national hero.
The national commemoration of Rizal’s martyrdom was held simultaneously at the Rizal Park; the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna; and the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte.
This year’s theme is “Rizal 2017: Mabuting Kaisipan, Susi sa Kaunlaran.”
Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna, on June 19, 1861. He was part of a group of Filipino Ilustrados who called for peaceful reform of Spain’s colonial rule in the Philippines.
While in Europe, Rizal wrote about the discrimination that accompanied Spain’s colonial rule of his country. Among his famous works are “Noli Me Tangere,” and “El Filibusterismo.”
He returned to the Philippines in 1892, but was exiled to Dapitan by Spanish authorities. He was convicted of sedition and was executed on December 30, 1896, at age 35.
The observance of Rizal Day goes back to the decree issued by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on Dec. 20, 1898 declaring Dec. 30 as the anniversary of Jose Rizal’s death and also as “a national day of mourning”, for Rizal and other victims of the Spanish dominion throughout its three centuries rule.