The Armed Forces on National Heroes' Day honored frontliners as modern-day heroes for their valuable contributions to the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, chief of staff of the Armed Forces, recalled the sacrifices of the nation's heroes and dedicated the celebration to frontline workers whom he called modern-day heroes for their commitment to serve Filipinos in this time of crisis.
"To the heroes of our time – medical practitioners, law enforcers, government employees, and everyone who continues to perform their duties despite the threats posed by COVID-19, thank you for your hard work and sacrifices. Our whole nation is profoundly grateful to all of you for giving the Filipino people a fighting chance and a glimmer of hope against this pandemic," he said.
"Being dedicated as our frontliners in serving our country, our troops never ceased in accomplishing their duty by supporting our government’s response against the pandemic," Gapay added.
In addition, he said he believes that there is a hero in all of us and encouraged Filipinos to exude heroism, especially in these trying times.
"Heroism knows no bounds and manifests in different ways. It does not matter whether one is a uniformed personnel, a public servant, or an ordinary citizen – specks of heroism are innate in all of us, urging us to perform everyday acts of valor. Indeed, what makes exceptional men and women true heroes is their commitment – a burning desire to serve. True heroes emerge when our nation needs them most," he said.
Gapay led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City for the National Heroes Day celebration.
The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 also paid tribute to medical workers and other frontliners whom they said are "all heroes in the truest sense of the word" for making conceivable sacrifices to ensure the health and safety of the public.
"For the past six months, our doctors, nurses, military and police personnel, and civil servants have been at the forefront of our nation’s battle against the deadly disease. We know how your jobs have taken a heavy toll on your physical and mental well-being," the task force said.
"But despite the many challenges, you continue to put your lives on the line and carry out your critical tasks so that our countrymen can get the best medical care and other essential services they need to recover and return to their families," it added.
The NTF, chaired by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said the selflessness, dedication, and bravery shown by the frontliners during this health crisis puts them in the same league as our national heroes who made sacrifices to free our country from the oppressors.
Lorenzana said the public owes a "debt of gratitude" to our present heroes who continue to serve the country despite many challenges and threats they are facing.
"We commemorate and celebrate the bravery, heroism, and patriotism of our heroes, the men and women before us, who have lived and died in service to our country to build a just, peaceful and prosperous nation. Their deeds set into motion the emergence of a national consciousness that enabled us to evolve as a free and sovereign nation," Lorenzana said.
"Let this day serve as a reminder for us to unite and support each other as we recover from the effects of the pandemic as well as work together to safeguard our communities from the threat of criminality, terrorism, and violent extremism," he added.