Marcos: Phl to remain peace advocate with global partners

The Philippine government would continue to be an “advocate for peace and unity” under his administration, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. reiterated on Thursday.

Marcos vowed to pursue more enhanced diplomatic ties with its global partners and advocate peace-building initiatives toward economic growth and development.

“Domestically, we will strengthen our peace-building efforts, especially in conflict-affected areas,” Marcos said.

“Externally, we will continue to pursue the enhancement of our relations with our neighbors towards ensuring security and addressing global issues such as facilitating post-pandemic growth and addressing climate change,” he added.

The President made the statement as he led the first in-person commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings at the MacArthur Landing National Park in Palo, Leyte after two years of pandemic-induced nationwide lockdowns.

He noted that the commemoration is a “testament” to the human and economic cost of wars, adding that the events of the Second World War must serve as a lesson.

General McArthur’s historic landing at Palo, Leyte on 20 October 1944. | File photo

Horrors and bloodshed

Marcos recalled that almost eight decades ago, the shores of the Leyte Gulf witnessed the “horrors and bloodshed brought by the worst mankind could bring.”

“Now, we revisit its sands and wash them anew with the goodness that we are all capable of,” he said.

The President emphasized that despite the country’s differences from its global partners in the past, the Philippines enjoy flourishing ties with many nations.

“It is with gladness to see that, no matter how our differences had once divided us, we are now all together in partnership; working for a better world that is living in accord, understanding and respect,” he said.

“Carrying on the legacy of the great work of our forebears…let us continue moving forward by building a future where our relationships are defined not by our circumstances, which are fleeting; nor by our differences, which must be set aside,” he added.

Marcos encouraged the global community to define “our relationships… by our shared values and ideals, which are stronger and enduring.”

“We can achieve this by engaging in constant dialogue, by collaborating in mutually beneficial endeavors, and by harnessing our collective strengths to foster goodwill, cooperation, and trust among our peoples,” he said.

“With such shared aspirations for a more harmonious and more interconnected community of nations, let us build the future that we will be proud to bequeath to succeeding generations.”

Marcos added that he will push for the preservation of the country’s historical and cultural sites and deepen the Filipino people’s sense of national identity and inclusivity.

War veteran’s welfare

The President assured that his administration will “continue to look after” the welfare of the Filipino war veterans as he honored the courage and heroism they showcased during World War II, noting that they were instrumental in the peace and freedom that the Filipino nation enjoys today.

“They who have fought and died in and for this land will have their names forever etched in the pages of history,” he said.

“We express our most profound gratitude for the sacrifices that they had made in reclaiming our freedom and for ushering in a new age of peace for our people and for the world,” he added.

War veterans

US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson was also in Leyte to recognize the bravery of 31 Filipino war veterans, who she described “laid the foundation of the enduring alliance” between the Philippines and USA.

Carlson personally awarded Congressional Gold Medals to the war veterans — the highest civilian award that the US Congress bestows to recognize “distinguished achievements and contributions.”

“The bravery of Filipino World War II veterans laid the foundation for our enduring alliance. It was an honor to present the Congressional Gold Medal to 31 Filipino veterans today in Palo, Leyte. We are forever grateful for your service,” Carlson wrote in a social media post on Wednesday.

The US Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to an individual “who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.”

San Juanico lighting

In Samar Wednesday, Marcos Jr. expressed optimism that the completion of the San Juanico Bridge Aesthetic Lighting Project would boost the recovery efforts of the tourism industry in the Eastern Visayas region.

“With the recent completion of the San Juanico Aesthetic Lighting Project, I look forward to seeing the bridge turn into a true sight to behold, not just during the day, but now even in the dark at night,” Marcos said in a speech after witnessing the switch-on for the 21-minute lighting project in Santa Rita town, Samar province.

The President looks forward to the economic opportunities that will be stimulated by the newly-launched aesthetics light and sound show at the San Juanico Bridge, which he said holds a “special place” in his heart, being the project of his late father’s administration.

“I eagerly anticipate the assistance it will bring for the complete recovery of the tourism industry in the Eastern Visayas and nearby areas,” he said.

He also expects the event to encourage the other local government units to pursue similar programs that will enhance the country’s infrastructure.

Should other LGUs emulate the program, Marcos assured that his administration will provide the support needed to enhance, preserve, and showcase the best tourism projects and other initiatives they have to offer.

The 2.16-kilometer San Juanico Bridge connects Leyte and Samar islands and was opened in 1973. Japan’s War Reparations Program funded its construction.

The Chief Executive commended the joint efforts of both the government and private entities, saying partnerships like this begin to transform the Philippine economy in a post-pandemic world.

“It is fundamental in our pursuit of programs this kind of cooperation that you have done and — programs and projects that will boost the tourism and economic development of Samar and Leyte,” he said.

Marcos congratulated the officials of the provinces of Leyte and Samar, the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, and all those behind the project that beautify the region’s landmark and engineering marvel.

TIEZA is the funding source of the P80 million aesthetic light and sound project — the first one in the country — carried out by Amigo Entertainment Technologies Inc.

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