MANILA – As the Philippines celebrates its 122nd independence, government officials honored on Friday the front-liners, who they call modern-day heroes in the fight against the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta likened the front-liners to the heroes of the revolution.

“Habang ginugunita natin ang kagitingan ng ating mga bayani na nag-alay ng kanilang karunungan at nagbuwis ng mga buhay upang ipaglaban ang ating kalayaan at kasarinlan, nararapat din na bigyan natin ng pagpupugay ang ating mga bagong bayani–ang ating mga frontliners na buong tapang na hinaharap ang banta ng sakit upang makapagsilbi sa kapwa (While we honor our heroes who gave their lives to win our people’s freedom and independence, it is proper that we likewise honor our new heroes — our frontliners who bravely faced the threats of disease to serve others),” Peralta said.

Since the pandemic upended everyday living and work, the judiciary has adopted technology such as video conferencing and allowed persons deprived of liberty to post bail online to mitigate the effects of the disease.

Meanwhile, Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo paid homage to the heroes who fought valiantly for the country’s freedom from colonial rule, as well as the health care workers.

“The PN pays tribute to our heroes who fought valiantly for our country’s freedom and sovereignty. I also would like to salute our modern-day heroes, our healthcare workers fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Bacordo said the Navy would continue to protect the country’s seas and sovereignty and “will continue to emanate our national heroes bravery and valor in preserving our country’s freedom”.

For the Independence Day rites, present during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, representing President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, and Bacordo.

Bacordo served as the military host while Domagoso acted as the civilian host for the event.

Only 10 guests were present in the wreath-laying ceremony in line with the Inter-Agency Task Force’s health and safety protocols.

On Thursday, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the country would prevail over the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While we continue to battle with a treacherous adversary that remains unseen, our unity and cooperation will fortify each and every Filipino’s first line of defense. No matter how much harm the pandemic is bringing to our nation, we shall fight together and defeat it in the end just like our forebears who fought until our freedom has been won,” he said in his Independence Day message.

Office of Civil Defense administrator Ricardo Jalad also thanked the work done by front-liners.

“Ating bigyan ng pagpupugay ang katapangan at sakripisyo ng atin mga bayani, gayon din ang pagod at walang sawang paglilingkod ang ating front-liners ngayong kapanahunan ng krisis (On this day, let us salute the bravery and sacrifices made by our heroes, and also the efforts and services of our front-liners during this time of crisis),” he said.

This year’s Independence Day anniversary has the theme Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa Bansang Malaya, Nagtutulungan at Ligtas. (PNA)

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