By Charissa Luci-Atienza
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro cheered Wednesday President Duterte’s signing into law of a measure, declaring February 4 of every year a special working holiday for the “Philippine-American War Memorial Day.”
The principal author of the bill said the enactment of the measure into law was long-overdue, citing the measure was first filed in the 15th Congress.
“A commemoration of the Philippine-American War is a recognition of the heroic struggles of our fellow Filipinos who fought against the invasion, oppression, and intervention of a foreign power, and serve as a reminder for Filipinos of the nationalist principles of those who fought in the war and prevent historical revisionism,” Castro said.
On April 17, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11304, which seeks to commemorate the “sacrifice and bravery the men and women who fought and died in defense of the Filipino nation during the Philippine-American War.” The law mandates the implementation of activities in schools in commemoration of the five-month long war that broke out on February 4, 1899 and resulted in the deaths of at least 200,000 Filipino civilians.
The House of Representatives approved the bill, authored by Castro and former ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, on third and final reading earlier this year.
Amid the signing of RA 11304, Castro was still lamenting that the Duterte administration continues to implement anti-people policies.
“It is unfortunate that the anti-people policies implemented by the Duterte administration only aids the continuation of US atrocities and worse allow other foreign powers like China to invade our lands and waters,” she said.
“By refusing to take concrete steps towards a truly independent foreign policy, the Duterte administration fails to honor the sacrifices of the countless named and unnamed heroes who fought for our independence,” Castro stressed.
She renewed the Makabayan bloc’s call to scrap the Philippines’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
“The EDCA and VFA with the U.S. remain in force while the administration seems to be surrendering our seas, lands and rights to the Chinese government, despite public clamor for the Philippine government to defend our sovereignty,” she said.
“Our country’s rich human and natural resources continue to serve the interests of big foreign businesses while our government continues to deprive the people of basic social services and decent living wage,” she added.