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MANILA — The dark days of colonization and Marcos dictatorship are over but the battle against the crooked and fake reformists continues, President Aquino declared during the celebration of National Heroes Day last Monday (Aug. 25).

As the President paid tribute to the past and modern-day Filipino heroes, he called on the public to remain vigilant against groups seeking to restore the “old and abusive political systems” and derail the country’s growth.

“The days of colonizers, of wars, of Martial Law are long gone. Yet there are still a select, selfish few who remain determined to bring back the old and abusive political systems,” the President said in Filipino during commemorative rites held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

“This is the fight that confronts us today: to remain vigilant against those who seek to sow doubt and lies; to stand firm and refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who only pretend at reform; to reject the crooked, and resolve to stay on the straight path,” Aquino added.

The President said that the country is already in a much better state after four years of reforms, asking the people to unite and protect such gains.

“We have been treading the straight path for more than four years now. The seeds of change we have sown are already bearing fruit — and, seeing this, those who want to take advantage of the people are becoming desperate,” he said.

Aquino urged the public “not to waste the opportunity we have today,” saying this was the only way Filipinos can repay and honor the heroes who sacrificed much for the country.

“The latest estimates of the Commission on Population reveal that there are around 100 million Filipinos at present. On days like this, I cannot help but think, and ask myself: What can be achieved when a hundred million Filipinos work arm-in-arm towards a single goal?” the President asked.

The President made the remarks as several groups gathered in Luneta to protest all forms of “pork barrel” in government. The movement aims to gather six million signatures for a people’s initiative to pass a law abolishing the pork barrel system.

In recent weeks, Aquino drew flak for his recent views of being open to Charter change and term extension. Some groups have denounced Aquino’s alleged tendency to cling to power and undermine his parents’ legacy.

Although he did not mention any political issue in his National Heroes Day speech, the President slammed naysayers and detractors while praising ordinary heroes who fight for the benefit of the many.

Aquino hailed the courage of present-day heroes, particularly the Filipinos in the Fukushima prefecture in Japan who survived the 2011 tsunami and Noli dela Cruz who saved 36 persons during the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda.

He said these Filipinos demonstrated the “the extraordinary ability of Filipinos to serve as beacons of hope in the darkest moments.”

“Instead of hurling criticism or spreading negativism, which some of our countrymen have grown accustomed to doing, these remarkable Filipinos chose to empower their fellowmen,” the President said. (Manila Bulletin)


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