PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. honored Monday the country’s World War II (WWII) heroes, asking Filipinos to have faith and look to the future with confidence, as they face everyday challenges.
Speaking during the commemoration of the 81st Araw ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan, Marcos said the Filipino nobility of spirit was once again demonstrated in the last worldwide crisis, where the nation’s men and women rose to the challenge of facing an unseen enemy — a new global challenge.
“Once again, Filipinos showed the world our purity of spirit and of compassion by willingly putting themselves in peril in the service of others,” the President said.
“So have faith. We can look to the future with confidence, guided with the knowledge that the most noble Filipino quality of heroism is aflame and burns brightly in every true Filipino.”
Marcos expressed his gratitude to Filipino heroes “who fought and bled and died” in Bataan, saying they have shown the way how to make the best citizens of the Republic.
That heroism, Marcos said, can be seen in Filipino war veterans who have passed on the shining legacy and treasure as well as in the eyes of every child who looks to the future with hope and eager anticipation.
As every Filipino toils and sacrifices to feed their families, help their communities and serve their country, the President called on the nation to celebrate these golden deeds that uphold the spirit of patriotism.
“We celebrate all the individual acts of valor and of sacrifice. We celebrate the Filipino spirit. We celebrate our countrymen’s deep, abiding love of every Filipino: love for our land, love for our people, and love for our freedom,” the President said.
“We have been called upon to stay true to that tradition, that tradition that Filipinos have demonstrated throughout our history. And so it is today that the spirit of heroism is once again asked of us by our country.”
The President said these may not be grand acts displayed in the battlefield, but in the everyday challenges that Filipinos must face to defend themselves, the people and the country.
In accordance with Proclamation No. 466, series of 1989, the country celebrates Philippine Veterans Week from April 5 to 11 of every year to promote, preserve and memorialize the principles, ideas and deeds of the war veterans as a means to enhance patriotism and love of country, especially among the Filipino youth.
Executive Order No. 203, series of 1987, designated April 9 of every year as Araw ng Kagitingan while Proclamation No. 90, series of 2022, signed by Marcos, moved the celebration of Araw ng Kagitingan this year to April 10.
This year’s theme is “Kagitingan ng mga Beterano, Pundasyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino” (Veterans’ Bravery, Foundation of a United Citizenry).
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also joined the nation in celebrating Araw ng Kagitingan and emphasized that the bravery displayed by Filipino soldiers in Bataan during World War II should never be forgotten.
“The Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan commemorates the battle that occurred in Bataan during World War II, where many of our fellow countrymen sacrificed their lives and exhibited their heroism.
“Although several years have passed, their courage should serve as an ongoing inspiration for us to exhibit our love for the Philippines,” he said.
MORE SUPPORT, IMPROVED PENSION SYSTEM FOR WWII VETERANS
In an interview following his attendance at the 81st commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat in Bataan, Marcos said his administration is looking at strengthening the pension system of Filipino war veterans.
“Ang aming tinitingnan ay kung papaano natin patibayin ang sistema na pagbigay ng pensyon sa ating mga beterano. At dahil sa kasalukuyan, pagka hindi inayos ang sistema, hindi tatagal dahil malaki ang binibigay sa mga pension,” he told reporters.
“Mayroon nagre-retire bago sa retireable age. Itong mga problemang ito ay lilitaw ‘yan kaya’t ang aming ginawa ay tiyakin muna na may sistema upang lahat ng ating mga beterano ay makatanggap ng kanilang tamang pension,” he added.
Once a stable pension system is established, Marcos said his government would look for things that could be given to the World War II veterans, who were recognized and paid with their backpay only a few years ago.
Filipino fighters called Bolomen will also continue to receive recognition and pay from the government, the chief executive said.
“Ito’y ipagpatuloy dahil kinikilala natin sila. At sa nag-survive na sundalo na fighter, na frontline fighter, kailangan talaga natin ay kupkupin natin at tulungan natin at alagaan natin sila dahil sila ang nagbigay nitong napaka-gandang biyaya ng kalayaan sa atin dito sa Pilipinas, “ he said. PNA, PCO,