By Darryl John Esguerra

PROTECT SOVEREIGN RIGHTS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the 82nd Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) ceremony at Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan on Tuesday (April 9, 2024). In his message, Marcos called on Filipinos to draw inspiration from the bravery of our war veterans, and stand united to never allow oppression in the country’s own territory in the face of what he called “threats to the Philippines’ sovereign rights.” (RTVM Screengrab)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday called on Filipinos not to allow the country to suffer from oppression and subjugation in its territory.

Speaking at the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) ceremony at Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan, Marcos said the country still faces a myriad of challenges over eight decades since the Second World War, including threats to its sovereign rights that have already “caused physical harm to our people.”

Ang mga ito ay hindi katanggap-tanggap. Hindi makatwiran at hindi matarungan lalo na sa panahong ito ng payapang pakikipag-ugnayan ng mga bansa (These are unacceptable. They are unreasonable and unjust especially in this era of peaceful relations among countries),” Marcos said.

He called on the Filipinos to never allow oppressors in the country’s “own backyard” much like how the forebears bravely fought for freedom and independence.

Nawa’y magsilbing inspirasyon ang mga kaganapan noong 1942 at ang tagumpay natin noong 1945 sa ating lahat. Tulad ng ipinamalas ng ating mga dakilang ninuno, hindi tayo dapat magpasupil at magpa-api, lalo na sa loob ng ating sariling bakuran (May the events of 1942 and our eventual victory in 1945 serve as an inspiration to all of us. As our great forebears demonstrated, we should not be subjugated and oppressed, especially within our own backyard),” he said.

Nawa’y mapagkunan natin ito ng ibayong kamalayan, tapang at lakas ng loob. Higit sa lahat, nawa’y patuloy nitong pagtibayin ang ating pagkakaisa at ang ating pagiging makabansa (May this provide us with greater awareness, courage and bravery. Above all, may it continue to strengthen our unity and our nationalism).”

The President issued the statement in the face of the heightened tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) following China’s aggressive actions in the waterways.

On March 23, a China Coast Guard vessel water cannoned a Philippine supply ship en route to Ayungin shoal, a maritime feature within the WPS.

The attack left the supply vessel heavily damaged and its crew members injured.

Improving military capability

In the same speech, Marcos ordered the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to assess and submit a report on the military’s equipment.

“These measures aim to show our unwavering support to our soldiers as they face new and growing challenges,” he said.

The AFP previously said it is now focusing on addressing external threats after decades of centering its operations to addressing insurgency and terrorism in the country.

“Ours is a complicated world today, but we must not yield. We must not back down from any and all challenges that seek to threaten our peace, our honor, and our very existence,” Marcos stressed.

Revisit disabled soldiers’ benefits

The President also ordered a study on the prevailing benefits for soldiers permanently disabled in the line of duty to ensure that they are “commensurate to their sacrifices.”

Defense, budget, and finance departments are directed to submit to Malacañang their “recommendation while taking stock of the national government’s position.” (PNA)