By Antonio Colina
DAVAO CITY — President Duterte, who led the 123rd anniversary commemoration of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Rizal Park in Davao City on Monday, wishes that the national hero’s shining example be emulated by the youth.
In a message released by the Malacañan Palace, the President noted that Rizal’s “ardent love of country and unfettered desire to cultivate not only his intellect but also the intelligence of his countrymen have led to a reawakening of the Filipino’s patriotism and sense of responsibility.”
“May the freedom we now enjoy as a people be cherished, be further fortified and be kept thriving through the solidarity that we show in combatting the ills of illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality,” he added.
Duterte encouraged the Filipino people to keep the “embers of nationalism alive” as they face the challenges of “apathy and divisiveness” as did Rizal more than 120 years ago.
The President arrived at Rizal Park here at 7:55 a.m. and was assisted by his children, Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III during the wreath-laying.
The President immediately left without delivering a speech at 8:09 a.m. This year’s commemoration was themed “Jose Rizal: Paragon of the Filipinos in the 21st Century.”
All roads going to the Rizal Park, located beside the City Hall of Davao, were closed to vehicles as early as 6 a.m. to ensure the security of the venue.