PH Embassy in US explains holding of Philippine Independence rites in 2 venues

Published June 17, 2021, 3:03 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Citing COVID-19 health protocols, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Thursday admitted to celebrating the 123rd anniversary of Philippine Independence in two separate venues – one for the Embassy’s top United States government “partners” and another for a group of invited Filipino community leaders.

Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and his guests from the United States government watch the video message of US President Joe Biden on the occasion of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day celebration and the 75th anniversary of the US-Philippines bilateral relations. (PE-Washington, D.C.)

The Independence Day celebration coincided with the 75th year of the Philippines-United States diplomatic relations.

In a statement, the Embassy said the Main Chancery Building hosted officials from the State Department, Pentagon, White House and Congress where an entertainment led by ABS-CBN topnotch balladeer Martin Nievera was beamed virtually. ABS-CBN Bureau Chief TJ Manotoc served as the emcee of the event.

At the Chancery Annex, the Embassy arranged a catered Filipino food for around 20-25 invited Filipino community leaders – particularly organizations linked with medical and economic frontliners and those interconnected and supporting the vaccine-related initiatives of the Embassy.

One of the Filipino attendees said they were reportedly barred from entering the Main Chancery building to join the traditional toast for Philippine Independence.

Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District) delivered his Independence Day message recognizing the “long successful history of the Philippines and the fight for democracy and freedom.”

Ohio Representative Steve Chabot, who co-led the congressional contingent, said the anniversary of the US-Philippine bilateral ties is a “testament to our enduring friendship, our common interests, and our shared values. Together we must work to deepen this invaluable relationship.”

Scott and Chabot co-chair the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus, a bipartisan network of U.S. legislators who support the U.S.-Philippines alliance and promote the interests and welfare of Filipino Americans.

During the twin celebration, protesters numbering about 50 people gathered outside the Embassy bearing placards calling for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the ouster of President Duterte.