CEBU, Philippines – The government and the Catholic Church in Cebu celebrated Independence Day yesterday by paying tribute to the soldiers fighting the Maute rebels in Marawi City.
Thirteen Marines were the latest casualties on the side of government.
At the City Hall grounds yesterday, attendees of the Independence Day program offered a minute of silence to pray for the soldiers.
“Let us always remember, ask not what the country can do for you but ask yourself what you can do for the country. That there were brother Filipinos who shed their sweat, blood and tears for us to be free and to breathe the air of democracy and liberty,” said Vice Mayor Labella.
Mandaue Mayor Luigi Quisumbing echoed this call.
“Today, and for all the days to come, let us honor their sacrifice. We honor their sacrifice by realizing that Independence Day is not the celebration of a single moment in history but a constant renewal of our vow to keep sacred the sacrifice of blood by our ancestors and our soldiers still fighting in the field today. The blood that they have shed to defend our country has sanctified it and secured our freedom,” Quisumbing said.
Labella said generations to come should never forget that there are those who sacrificed their lives for others and this memory can be passed one by imbibing a culture of humility and concern for others.
He called on fellow public servants to uphold the principle of accountability in their actions, as it is one way of ensuring that the sacrifices of the past to preserve the freedom every Filipino now enjoys will not be put to waste.
In Carcar City, Mayor Nicepuro Apura reminded the public that the freedom everyone enjoys is not absolute and that certain limitations must be observed.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña who is in the Netherlands posted on his Facebook page: “Even just for today, let’s set aside our political differences and remember that we all belong under one flag.”
At the Capitol, Governor Hilario Davide III called on the public to trust the government’s efforts and remain calm despite the ongoing feud. He asked Filipinos to unite against those who seek to divide the country.
“There is the threat from some of our countrymen to dismember the republic. They are now waging war against the government to form a separate state.” Davide said.
“There are other enemies our country must face. There are forces that seek to destroy the family, which is the very foundation of the nation; forces that seek to destroy the future of our children, the moral and spiritual foundation of the people,” he added.
He said he is optimistic that the government will win the conflict in Marawi.
“Our forefathers’ quests for nationhood, heroes were martyred, not by enemy fire alone but also by the hands of our traitors. Yet the revolution did not die. Our dream of nationhood could not be slain,” Davide said.
By midday, Carillon bells at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the local archdiocese, rang to honor the soldiers.
“Of course, the bells ring at noon for the Angelus but some were added for that specific intention,” said Diocesan priest Jonathan Rubin, the parochial vicar or assistant parish priest of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
“Despite the loss, we pray that the families will still find brightness in their lives,” he added.
In downtown Cebu City, as in the past, militant groups gathered yesterday to voice out their discontent on government.
“We call for Duterte to lift Martial Law and reinstate the writ of habeas corpus immediately and stop the bombing operations in Marawi City. The effects of the crackdown against civilians and the destruction of the city only aid the terrorists in their propaganda to sow fear and terror,” said Akbayan Youth, one of the organizers of the activity.
The group was joined by Akbayan Party, Akbayan Youth FORGE, Kaabag sa Sugbo, Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, KAISA KA, Sentro, Partido Manggagawa, Pagtambayayong Foundation, Urban Poor Alliance, Sentro, and Youth for Nationalism and Democracy.
They walked from P. del Rosario Street to Colon Street where they staged the rally.
They called for justice for the people of Marawi and Duterte’s alleged Martial Law abuses.
Outside of Cebu City, another group of militant organizations walked from the University of Cebu – Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue to the Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan.
Bringing placards with the words “Katawhan, Maghiusa! I-asdang ang tinuod na kaugalingnan ug soberanya”, the groups criticized the Duterte administration for its continued control by the US government.
“Nagpakaaron ingnon nga gilingkawas sa Estados Unidos ang Pilipinas gikan sa mga Kastila. Apan padayon gihapon kitang gikontrolar sa Estados Unidos pinaagi sa pagpanginlabot sa atong ekonomiya, politika, militar, ug kultura,” the group said.
Like the rallyists in Cebu City, they called on Duterte to stop the indiscriminate bombings in Marawi and to lift Martial Law in Mindanao.
“Gi-awag nato ang tanang Pilipino nga mahimong kritikal sa kasamtangang kahimtang sa katilingbang Pilipino taliwala sa mga kagubot nga mugna sa Imperyalistang Estados Unidos aron mahatagan og rason ang padayon nilang pagkontrolar sa atong nasud,” the group said.
Various local government units in Cebu also celebrated the event like Carcar City, Naga City and Mandaue City. May B. Miasco Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Frazene Dolly E. Alterado, Dulcelyn T. Insong (FREEMAN)