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Defend freedoms, Aquino urges Filipinos

19 June 2016

In his last Independence Day address, outgoing President Benigno Aquino 3rd urged Filipinos on Sunday, June 12, to defend their freedom and democracy and to remain vigilant as he warned that the horrors of martial law could happen again.
Aquino turns over the presidency on June 30 to Rodrigo Duterte, who won with a vote margin of more than six million in the May 9 balloting.
“Now that we’re entering a new chapter in our history, let us not forget that freedom must be guarded and nurtured. We must strive to achieve and fight for all the things that matter,” Aquino said.
“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” he said, using a quote usually attributed to British statesman Edmund Burke.
Aquino enumerated some of the achievements under his administration in transforming the country from being the “sick man of Asia,” to “Asia’s darling” under a democratic rule that honors due process, law and human rights. He underscored that this was accomplished without disregard for the rule of law.
“Let us remember that just a generation ago, the Philippine government itself was the one suppressing the freedom of our fellow Filipinos. A fellow Filipino deprived us of our freedoms. It means that if we are not vigilant, this can happen again,” the President said.
In between the speech, an audio visual presentation was shown about the Aquino family suffered during the martial law years particularly when his father and namesake was detained for more than seven years.
Aquino’s father, the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., was assassinated in 1983 as he was going down the plane at the then Manila International Airport . Three years later, Filipinos succeeded in overthrowing then dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was flown to Honolulu, Hawaii where he died in 1989.
Part of the annual Independence Day celebrations was the traditional vin ‘d honneur attended by diplomats, top government officials, and business executives.
“Allow me to propose a toast. To the Filipino people: may we never lose our patience with the ways of democracy, and may we never take it for granted or be passive in its defense,” he said.
Aquino said Filipinos should treasure the country’s 118 years of independence and guard against attempts to revive authoritarianism.
He called on Filipinos to fight attempts to take away their freedoms as he prepared to hand over power to incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to kill criminals.
“To our hard-won Filipino freedom, earned by the blood and sacrifice of martyrs, nurtured by the vigilance of an empowered people, may it never again be challenged, diminished, or negated,” he said.
Duterte has warned that as president he will shut down Congress and establish a revolutionary government if lawmakers do not support his policies or if he is investigated for his anti-crime policies.
 Duterte has also promised to allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, despite strong opposition from some quarters. Marcos’s remains has been kept in the family’s mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte. His son and namesake, who ran but lost in a tightly-fought vice presidential race in May, said his father’s body would be transferred to the heroes’ cemetery possibly in September.

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