AS the nation commemorates its 125th Independence Day today, June 12, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. vowed that his department will continue to “strive for the protection and betterment of our motherland” amid growing challenges in the Southeast Asian region.
“The Department of National Defense is one with Filipinos in the desire to foster a safe, peaceful, united and prosperous Philippines,” Teodoro said in Filipino in his Independence Day message.
Teodoro said that as the newly designated Defense secretary, it is a great honor for him to celebrate Independence Day as a part of the organization serving as “the custodian of our sovereignty.”
“June 12th of every year is one of the most important days for Filipino people. This is not the only day to celebrate the success of our independence, if not also a reminder of our sacrifice and courage of our ancestors in the name of the establishment and defense of our people,” said Teodoro.
“Within more than that for a century, their heroism served as a guide for the establishment of the sovereignty of our Motherland,” he said.
This year’s Independence Day celebration is “proof that as we look back, we are also slowly taking the road to our tomorrow…. As our history tells us, we can only achieve our ideals for our country if we are united and care for each other, here in our own country and in different parts of the world,” he said.
Filipinos commemorate this year’s Independence Day amid growing security concerns, particularly in defending the West Philippine Sea against increasing incursions by Chinese maritime vessels.
In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed to respond and to “perform well in our duties and responsibilities to maintain unity and peace in our country as we strive to strengthen our ability to defend our independence.”
“While we appreciate the freedom granted to us by the heroes who fought and sacrificed their lives, we will be strong and courageous to face trials, carrying the important lessons derived from colorful history,” AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said.
“With our combined strength and knowledge, we can easily achieve the desire for a peaceful and prosperous community,” he said.
Aguilar stressed that “success is certain if we are all together and work together to take the path to a better future.” Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, revealed on Sunday that as part of the Independence Day rites, the AFP will show off its assets.
He said four ground-based air defense systems surface-to-air missiles, two Autonomous Truck-Mounted Howitzer System 155mm self-propelled artillery will be featured in the civic-military parade, while two A-29B Super Tucano, one AH-1S Cobra attack helicopter, two Blackhawks, and two AW-109 naval helicopters will do a flypast.
Ileto said 34 motorized/mechanized assets will join a division-size marching troop while 26 aircraft will fly over Manila.
He said the AFP aims to highlight its gains in its modernization and transformation programs and its enhanced capability to defend national sovereignty and territory. — Franco Jose C. Baroña
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