PILAR, Bataan – Remembering the horrors of World War II (WWII), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea urged the country to be vigilant in acts against the sovereignty of people instigated by foreign bodies.
Medialdea recalled the Battle of Marawi where 165 soldiers and police died to free the city last year from the invasion of Islamic State-inspired attacks.
“Another threat that we should diligently guard against and not allow to prosper are acts against our sovereignty and democratic process by foreign bodies,” he said.
During the 76 th Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan today at Mt. Samat Shrine, Medialdea said after “one of the worst chapters in history” that is the Fall of Bataan in WWII, the country faces new enemies in the form of poverty, corruption, terrorism, illegal drugs, criminality and threats to environment.
These enemies, he said, are creeping into the very fabric of society that remembers today the sacrifice of 76,000 soldiers who endured the Bataan Death March, of whom approximately were 66,000 Filipinos and 10,000 Americans.
“It is constant vigilance, courage and by saving our nation from these forces that we can continue to enjoy the liberty that our forbearers fought for,” Medialdea said.
Dr. Rene Escalante, chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, expressed the same concern on the global level, citing “very volatile” geopolitical situations in Middle East and in the Korean Peninsula. He rued that hatred and conflict rule in many parts of the world that disadvantage most the poor and the children.
“We must go back to the hard earned lesson we learned from our experience in World War II that is the importance of diplomacy, of states engaging each other in peaceful dialogue,” Escalante said.
In front of war veterans and their families, Medialdea assured that the administration of President Duterte will provide better health benefits and improve the management of pension accounts of more than 44,000 military and war veterans, in which are over 6,000 aging citizens who fought in WWII. From 2017 until March this year, more than 6,000 veterans and their dependents benefited in medical services through 270 accredited hospitals.
In the same period, P50.7 billion worth of educational assistance was allocated for the Iskolar ng mga Bayani program, which produces 450 college graduates annually.
Medialdea also highlighted Philippine relations with WWII ally United States of America and erstwhile aggressor Japan. “To this day, America has remained our strong military and economic ally. The Japanese against whom our soldiers defended Bataan for many years now remains as one of our biggest regional allies, a major trading partner, and the largest provider of official development assistance that aids in our fight against poverty and our quest for economic progress,” he said.
Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda and US Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Michael Klecheski both acknowledged the gallantry of war heroes during the Japanese invasion in 1941 to 1945 and cited stronger relations with the Philippines.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the Mt. Samat Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone was also held, prompting infrastructure development in the national shrine that will include cable cars, underground museum and a center for World War II studies.
Contributed by Jose Mari M. Garcia, PIA-Bataan