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Speech of President Aquino during the anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence, June 12, 2012

Speech
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 114th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence
 [English translation of the speech delivered at Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan on June 12, 2012]


A year ago, we gathered in Kawit, Cavite, on General Emilio Aguinaldo’s balcony, where our flag was first unfurled and waved. It was there where our national anthem, the Lupang Hinirang, was first played—its rhythm matching the pulsating hearts of Philippine revolutionaries, who were finally freed from the shackles of foreign rule. There, the Philippines claimed its right to be a free and independent nation.

This morning, we commemorate the 114th year of the proclamation of our independence in Barasoain Church—the cradle of our Constitution. It was here where the representatives of different provinces came together to decide on how best to care for and nourish the hard-won freedom they had fought so hard for. It was here where Congress established the First Republic of the Philippines; here too where the Constitution of Malolos, the first Constitution of a Republic in Asia, was ratified and promulgated. It was here where our forebears decided to take the future of our country into their own hands, and show the world that the Philippines is for Filipinos.

Even in those days, our predecessors were well aware of the principle that keeps our democracy alive: that true power emanates from and belongs to the Filipino people, and that it must necessarily be used for their benefit. They chose representatives not to rule, or to reign supreme, but to guide our country to the right direction, and to serve the common citizen.

When those 70 representatives from different provinces journeyed to Malolos, they brought with them the aspirations of their provinces, and the dreams of our nation. They put these ahead of personal interest. They carried on their shoulders the obligation of codifying the rules the populace had agreed to, the rules that would guide how they would live and relate to others in manner that was proper, fair, and just.

These representatives did not let us down. They laid down a Constitution that acted as a wellspring of justice, that protected and upheld the common good, and that ensured equal rights for all.

And it was our Constitution on which I relied heavily, back when I was starting my term as a representative of Tarlac. I became familiar with it, often reading, studying, and analyzing its provisions. It set for me guidelines I knew I had to follow as a Filipino citizen, and more importantly, it showed me how I could best fulfill my responsibilities as a public servant.

There were times when I could not help but be dismayed, because even after the ratifications our Constitution underwent in 1935 and 1987, it seemed as if there were no shortage of those who sought to discover loopholes to further their own selfish interests. There were some officials who blatantly violated the law, and just as blatantly escaped accountability. The Constitution that was meant to be the refuge of the common citizen became a plaything in the hands of those who wielded power with impunity. They acted as if they held the blindfold of justice in their hands, as if they were licensed to amend, reduce, change, and distort our Constitution.

The whole country bore witness to the impeachment trial of Mr. Corona, the former Chief Justice. This was a process that took five months. And it was a process that strengthened our democracy. After all, Filipinos have the right to know the truth, and the right to know that the democratic system is alive and working in the Philippines. It was a process that once again underscored to all public servants that the power lent to them by Juan dela Cruz comes with responsibilities, and accountability.

Perhaps it may be that corruption became widespread not only because the numbers of the power-hungry grew, but also because the numbers of the apathetic and the silent grew. And so the beacon of democracy went dim, because no one took the initiative to nurture its flame.

Now that our nation has gathered momentum along the straight and righteous path, we will not allow ourselves to lose our way in the darkness of the past. The Constitution states that it is from the people that our country draws its strength. So it is only just that they are the ones who benefit from the fruits of our endeavors. This is why all the reforms we institute—from the jobs we are able to give our countrymen, to our thrust to ensure justice for all; from the reconstruction of our social systems, to the responsible allotment of our funds—mirrors the principle that was strengthened in this very church in 1898.

Next year, we will celebrate the proclamation of our independence in Pinaglabanan. And we have laid out plans to celebrate it in the Visayas, and after that, in Mindanao. Why do we hold our yearly celebrations in these historical places? We do this so we can emphasize that we did not just gain our freedom in Kawit, or in Malolos, or in Luzon alone. It is only fitting that each Filipino—from those in the most secluded mountainsides, to the farthest islands, and those seeking their future on other shores—feels that what we commemorate on the 12th of June is a nationwide celebration; that its spirit is what fuels our desire to be free.

True democracy for all Filipinos: this is the essence of our Constitution; this is the lifeblood of our free State. Cognizant of the mandate enshrined in our Constitution, we will not allow it to be infected, sullied or used by anyone who seeks only to best his fellow men, or wallow in power.

This is what Barasoain Church reminds us of. In 1898, our ancestors gathered here in Malolos to uphold and strengthen our Republic. This was what took place in 1986, in EDSA, when we uprooted a dictatorship. And this too was what took place during the 2010 elections, which paved the way for our reforms. History’s blessings teach us: we will only achieve true freedom when each of us is ready for his soles to be callused, when each of us is ready to give his blood and sweat for our country. With heads held high, we will forge on towards a Philippines free not only from the clutches of foreign oppression, but also and more importantly, from corruption, hunger and injustice. Let us dismantle the bars of selfishness and disunity; let us break free from the culture of finger-pointing and indifference. This is the meaning of true freedom.

Thank you, and good day.

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Official Gazette | June 12, 2012 | Article Link

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