President honors past, present heroes on National Heroes’ Day

Published August 31, 2020, 9:55 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte recognized the sacrifice of the country’s past and modern-day heroes as the Philippines commemorated National Heroes’ Day on August 31. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

In a short message aired over state-run PTV-4, Duterte joined the entire nation in paying tribute to the country’s heroes who risked their lives fighting for liberty. 

“Today, we honor not only the valor of our forebears who fought for our motherland’s freedom but also the heroism of those who risked their lives fighting a different kind of enemy,” he said. 

The President also recognized Filipino frontliners leading the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Present-day challenges posed by the current public health crisis have given rise to modernday heroes – the country’s Filipino frontliners here and abroad who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. 

Duterte, meanwhile, hoped that Filipinos will draw inspiration from present and modern-day heroes to overcome all challenges that they may face. 

“I hope that the bravery of our Filipino heroes, past and present, will inspire us all to face and overcome even the most unfavorable situations,” he said. 

“Together, let us become everyday heroes as we pursue a better future for everyone,” he added. 

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar urged the public to keep Filipino frontliners in their prayers as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “As we continue our fight against COVID-19, let’s remember our modern-day heroes, our frontliners, who constantly put their lives at risk for our safety and protection,” Andanar said. 

“May their sacrifices not be in vain as we, in the Duterte administration, strive to continue providing the necessary actions for us to heal and recover as one nation,” he added. 

‘Debt of gratitude’ 

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.

“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 to mark the Heroes’ Day celebration. 

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 also paid tribute to medical workers and other frontliners they described as “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. 

Hazard pay

Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan called on the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that the country’s medical frontliners will receive their ₱500 daily hazard pay. 

“Let us honor and celebrate our everyday heroes against (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 by paying them their due, and releasing their daily hazard pay is the least we can do,” Pangilinan said. 

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) paid tribute to fallen judges, prosecutors, and government and private lawyers “who were killed or harmed because they were doing their sworn duty.” 

“The fact that quite a number of such cases remain unsolved is a shared frustration, shame, and responsibility of Filipino lawyers,” IBP national president Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa said in a press statement. (With reports from Mario B. Casayuran and Rey G. Panaligan)