SPEAKER Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez credited President “Rody” Rodrigo Duterte for making the Philippines a truly independent nation under his term, while opposition lawmakers lamented the failure of the government to oppose the creeping “invasion” of China in the West Philippine Sea .
Alvarez cited the major shift in the foreign policy of the Duterte administration in his message as the guest of honor during the celebration of the country’s independence day in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
“Our politics was controlled by Americans, our economy was controlled by the Americans. Were we truly independent? No,” Alvarez said.
For a nation to be truly independent, Alvarez said it must not be under the control of any other country.
“Previously America was our only friend. When President Duterte came into power he became friends with everyone. He befriended China, he befriended Russia, he befriended Korea, he befriended other nations in the world.”
But Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a member of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called House Independent Bloc, said China as an emerging world superpower “has been trampling on our sovereignty with their incursions in our territory in the West Philippine Sea.”
“And the Duterte administration’s response has been wanting, resorting to secret diplomacy which is characterized as inaction and silence to China’s transgressions. Instead, the Duterte administration continues to tout China as our savior, a friend and neighbor willing to lend us money that in reality may later enslave this nation,” said Alejano, a former Marine captain.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Reps. Antonio Tiñio and France Castro reiterated that the Philippines is far from being a genuinely independent country especially under the Duterte administration.
“The Philippines is far from being fully independent,” said Tiñio.
“The priority policies of the Duterte administration are far from achieving freedom from foreign incursions and intervention, far from freedom from poverty and corruption and freedom from tyranny and misogyny. This administration has failed to protect our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, it has failed to protect and uphold human rights, has failed to eliminate poverty as corruption continues to pervade.”
“Huwad na kalayaan ang ginugunita natin ngayong araw dahil hindi ramdam ng mga Pilipino ang kalayaan na hinangad nina Bonifacio noong nilabanan nila ang mga Kastila,” said Castro.
Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao urged the Duterte government to rise beyond ritual commemoration of Independence Day and assert our sovereign rights and serve the people.
“Celebrating Independence Day is hollow and meaningless until the country is liberated from any foreign influence and intervention and our people are fully enjoying their basic socio-economic and political rights. Those are the essence of independence, not the flag-raising ceremonies while the government kowtows to the interest of every foreign power that comes along,” said Casilao.