MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte was grateful that Japanese Emperor Naruhito extended his “warm greetings and good wishes” to the Philippines as it observes the 122nd anniversary of its independence from Spain, Malacañang said on Friday.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was profoundly honored to receive, on behalf of the Filipino people, the warm greetings and good wishes of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito of Japan on the occasion of the 122nd anniversary of the Philippines’ Independence,” it said in a press statement.

Filipinos annually celebrate Independence Day every June 12, which is declared a regular holiday.

This year’s theme for Independence Day is “Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa Bansang Malaya, Nagbabayanihan at Ligtas (Freedom 2020: Towards a Free, United, and Safe Nation).”

On June 12,1898, the country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, proclaimed the Philippines’ independence from the Spanish colonial rule in Kawit, Cavite.

Aguinaldo’s proclamation of independence made the Philippines as Asia’s first free and united nation from the clout of Western powers.

The Palace said the Emperor’s message “echoes the beautiful harmony and goodwill heralded by his ascension to the throne last year, and is deeply appreciated by the nation.”

The Philippines, it said, values its “special ties” with Japan.

Malacañang added that the Philippines is committed to further advancing the bilateral strategic partnership with Japan which both sides have ushered into its “golden age.”

Japan has been consistently among the Philippines’ major trading partners and biggest export markets and import sources.

It has also been the largest Official Development Assistance donor of the Philippines by contributing to infrastructure development, including the Japan-backed Metro Manila subway. (PNA)

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