DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 December) — President Rodrigo Duterte led the 123rd Rizal Day rites at the Rizal Park here on Monday themed “Jose Rizal: Paragon of the Filipinos in the 21st Century.”
The President, who arrived at 7:55 a.m., was assisted by his children Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III in laying the wreath as a tribute to the country’s national hero.
Duterte, who skipped last year’s event, immediately left after the program ended at 8:09 a.m. This is one of the rare official morning events that the President attended since he assumed power on June 30, 2016.
But in his message released by Malacañang, Duterte wished that the national hero’s “shining examples be emulated by the youth.”
The President honored Rizal by saying that his “ardent love of country and unfettered desire to cultivate not only his intellect but also the intelligence of his countrymen have led to a reawakening of the Filipino’s patriotism and sense of responsibility.”
“May the freedom we now enjoy as a people be cherished, be further fortified and be kept thriving through the solidarity that we show in combatting the ills of illegal drugs, corruption and criminality,” he added.
Duterte also encouraged the Filipino people to keep the “embers of nationalism alive” as they face the challenges of “apathy and divisiveness” as did Rizal more than 120 years ago.
All roads leading to the Rizal Park, which is located beside the City Hall of Davao, were closed to vehicles as early as 6 a.m. to ensure the security of the venue.