Benigno Aquino Jr Image Credit: AP

Manila: On the occasion of former senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr’s 35th death anniversary, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to continue to pursue the late leader’s ideal to end to the country’s “many social ills”.

“More than three decades ago, Benigno Aquino Jr died while fighting to restore peace and democracy in the Philippines. His profound love for his country inspired a revolution that altered the course of our nation’s history and gave birth to freedoms we now enjoy today,” Duterte said in a statement.

Aquino, husband to former President Corazon Aquino and father to the past president who shares his name, was assassinated on August 21, 1983.

The mastermind in the slaying remains unpunished to this day but his death inspired an uprising that toppled the more than two-decades-long presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr — a leadership mired in corruption and excesses.

Marcos Sr was eventually ousted by a people’s uprising in 1986, but the social ills and inequalities that he had fought against and gave his life for lingered.

Duterte said Filipinos should honour his memory by emulating his commitment to the cause.

“Let us take this opportunity to reflect on his sacrifice as we honour the courage and patriotism that Ninoy demonstrated during his struggle. May his dedication to his cause serve as a guidepost for our current leaders in government as they advance the welfare of the people, especially the oppressed and marginalised,” he said.

 

More Ninoys

“In this time of real and lasting change, we need more citizens like him so that we can steer the country towards the direction where a brighter and better future awaits us all. This can only be achieved if we work together to institute meaningful reforms that will put an end to the many social ills that have obstructed our path towards becoming a mature and stable democracy,” the President said.

August 21 is a Special Non-Working Holiday for Filipinos, for this year, it falls on the same day declared by the government as Eid Al Adha.

In a statement he issued to greet Filipino Muslims for the special occasion, Duterte said the common longing of unity and peace bind the diversity of faiths.

“May this celebration bind us together in our common hope of building diverse communities that is rooted in mutual respect and peace,” Duterte said.

“I trust that in the midst of our religious traditions, we will find the strength and inspiration to live a life that transcends social, political, and cultural barriers. Together, let us foster greater unity and harmony across people of various faiths,” he added.