Duterte lauds Covid frontliners for heroism

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday paid tribute to health care workers and other frontliners battling the coronavirus pandemic, comparing them to soldiers that defended Bataan during World War 2.

HEROES YESTERDAY AND TODAY The Philippines remembers its old and modernday heroes on April 9, 2021, Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), who have risked their lives fighting the wars of their generation. A life-size statue of the veterans stands at the plaza in Obando, Bulacan as a reminder of the country’s centuries-long battle for freedom against the colonizers. Medical frontliners have become a new breed of heroes as they take on the Covid-19 virus with a determination to beat the pandemic. PHOTOS BY RENE H. DILAN, RUY MARTINEZ AND J. GERARD SEGUIA

In his Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) message, Duterte said the unrelenting commitment of the country’s frontliners “reflects the heroism of the warriors of Bataan.”

“As we continue to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, we take a moment to honor the fortitude displayed by our selfless and dedicated frontliners whose unrelenting commitment in this fight reflects the heroism of the warriors of Bataan that continues to inspire in us a greater sense of patriotism and solidarity during these trying times,” he said.

Frontliners include health workers, uniformed personnel, government workers, media workers and those involved in the delivery of basic necessities such as food, medicine and other medical supplies.

The President said the Day of Valor was “a firm reminder of the unyielding determination of the Filipino to prevail over all forms of adversity.”

“The valor of our forebears, which was exhibited during the defense of Bataan almost eight decades ago, has left an indelible mark in our history and shaped our indomitable spirit to rise after every fall,” Duterte said.

“Today, we honor our fallen soldiers whose sacrifice became the bedrock of our resolve to uphold our most cherished liberties. May this awareness resonate among us as we strive to become worthy heirs to the nation that they fought and bled for,” he added.

The Day of Valor, celebrated every 9th of April, commemorates the Fall of Bataan in 1942 and the bravery of Filipino and American soldiers against invading Japanese forces.

It also recalls the Bataan Death March, in which exhausted Filipino and American prisoners of war were forced by their Japanese captors to walk some 112 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac with no food and water for days.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also commended the frontliners for serving the people in difficult times.

“Ngayong Araw ng Kagitingan, tayo ay nagpapasalamat sa ating mga front liners na patuloy na naglilingkod upang mapangalagaan ang ating kalusugan, sa ating mga sundalo at iba pang mga kawani na nagtataguyod ng ating kaligtasan at kapakanan, at sa ating mga kababayang patuloy na tumutulong sa kanilang kapwa sa gitna ng mga hamon sa ating bansa. Saludo kami sa inyo (We thank the frontliners who continuously provide service in taking care of our health on this day of the valor, for our soldiers and other staff that promotes our safety and welfare, and to our fellowmen that continuously helps the fellow-human beings amid the challenges in our country. We salute you),” Lorenzana in a statement.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said Filipinos, in commemorating those who fought in Bataan and Corregidor, must emulate in their own way the love for countrymen, the hope, and the readiness to sacrifice for the greater number that the heroes had.

“Sa pag-alala natin sa mga bayani ng Bataan at Corregidor, tinatawag tayong tularan, sa sarili nating paraan, ang kanilang pagmamahal sa kapwa Pilipino, ang kanilang pag-asa maging sa pinakamadilim na sandali, at ang kanilang kahandaang magsakripisyo para sa mas nakararami (In commemorating the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, we are called to imitate, in our way, their love for fellow Filipinos, their hope even at the darkest hour and their readiness to sacrifice for the greater number),” Robredo said in a statement.

In his Araw ng Kagitingan message, House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco also referred to frontliners as modern-day heroes in the battle against Covid-19.

“We are one with the nation as we commemorate Araw ng Kagitingan, or Day of Valor, to honor the heroism of our kababayan (countrymen) who bravely and selflessly fought for peace during World War 2. This grateful country will forever be indebted to their supreme sacrifice in defense of the motherland so that we and future generations of Filipinos may live in freedom,” Velasco said.

“Today, we see the bravery and courage of our war veterans among our health care workers who are putting their lives on the line to help and save our countrymen from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis,” he said.