AS the country marks National Heroes Day Sen. Peter Alan Cayetano in a statement reminded Filipinos of the sacrifices of “generations of patriots” who “heeded the call to fight for nationhood against colonizers and tyrants.”
Now Filipinos stand at a crossroads as a nation and as a people facing the challenge of fighting the modern-day colonizers and tyrants: the drug lords, the criminal syndicates, the corrupt, and the oligarchs, Cayetano said.
The challenge has been taken up by President Rodrigo Duterte, along with fellow patriotic Filipinos, to rid society of these present-day oppressors, and is fighting a day-to-day battle, which he is poised to win decisively, the senator noted.
“We are one with him in pursuing societial reforms where no modern president has ever tried,” he said.
He also underscored the support Duterte is getting from the other “patriotic Filipinos. “We also honor members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on National Heroes Day. Our law enforcers deserve to be recognized as modern-day heroes for their sacrifices for our people in the fight against illegal drugs and criminality.”
On National Heroes Day, Cayetano added, “we honor gallant Filipinos who laid down their lives to liberate our people from oppression and foreign domination. This occasion also allows us to recognize the brave men and women of today who continue to ensure that we live in a society that is safe, free and peaceful.
“For many years, drug lords have dominated our communities like tyrants, destroying Filipino families and endangering the safety and lives of our people, especially the youth. The anti-drug campaign is a no nonsense war to secure our people’s freedom and the country's interest from the clutches of these present-day tyrants, namely drug lords and criminal syndicates. I strongly believe that President Duterte’s intensive campaign against illegal drugs is his way to honor our most revered Philippine heroes.”
He reminded Filipinos that the “police and soldiers risk their lives in the line of duty to keep the rest of us safe and secure. But it pains me to see how they have instead become targets of criticism and seemingly endless investigations. Even more so, they do not receive adequate compensation despite the hazards brought by their profession. It's about time that they receive higher salaries and the proper credit that they deserve.”
But as the law enforcers wage the war against drugs, “we urge them to continue to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. But they must continue to be relentless in the government’s fight against illegal drugs for the sake of the next generation.”
At least nine police officers and three soldiers have been killed since President Duterte launched the war on illegal drugs 59 days ago, as attested to by PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa.
Cayetano urged Filipinos to remember as heroes, not as mere casualties: PO3 Jenny Agbayani, SPO3 Marlon Nicolas, PSINP Mark Gil Garcia, PO3 Nestor Dimaano, PSINP Orlando Guira, PO3 Jerson Autida, SPO3 Edmar Bumagat, PO2 Armand Villanueva Jupia, and SPO3 Limuel Mahaba Panligan, CPL Josel Miravalles, PFC Jaypee Duran, PO3 Dar Espallardo. “Many do not realize the sacrifices our law enforcers make until they themselves end up martyred in the line of duty and reported in the news,” Cayetano said.
The senator also pointed to “other living heroes that similarly deserve recognition, our Overseas Filipino Workers, our teachers, our nurses and our farmers and fisherfolk.”
“Dapat nating kilalanin din sila, gawing huwaran at ipaglaban ang interes at karapatan. And the best way to recognize them is to give them a clean government and a society that is safe and free from drugs and criminality,” said Cayetano.