BALANGA CITY – President Aquino will lead the 73rd commemoration rites for Araw ng Kagitingan tomorrow at the Shrine of Valor atop Mount Samat in Pilar town in this province.
Aquino will be accorded full military honors upon his arrival.
He will offer a wreath at the shrine, to be followed by messages from Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg. The President will also deliver a keynote address.
This year’s commemoration is guided by the theme “Ipunla ang Kagitingan sa Kabataan, Ihanda ang Beterano ng Kinabukasan.”
At least 1,000 policemen will be deployed to Pilar, Bataan and Capas, Tarlac for the event.
“All roads leading to the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Pilar, Bataan are now secured and manned by PNP personnel in the region,” said Chief Supt. Ronald Santos, officer-in-charge of Regional Office 3 (PRO3).
“Security and safety of all the delegates during the celebration is our primary concern, continuous police presence is being conducted as part of our security measure to ensure the safety of our guests and tourists who are also on vacation here,” Santos said.
About 5,000 surviving veterans, their families and local and foreign visitors are expected to join the annual celebration to be led by Bataan Gov. Albert Raymond Garcia and Reps. Enrique Garcia and Herminia Roman.
On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war were forced to march about 100 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga after a three-month battle against the occupying Japanese forces, in what would be known as the Bataan Death March.
From there, they were loaded on jampacked trains to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac where they were imprisoned until 1945.
The Dambana ng Kagitingan was built on top of Mount Samat in 1966 during the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, himself a war veteran, in memory of those soldiers.
'MARCH FOR A CAUSE'
Meanwhile, groups from both the private and government sectors have joined hands to organize a “Freedom March” that would retrace the last few miles of the death march.
Proceeds from the event will support the construction of the Capas Concentration Camp replica and the scholarship of children of soldiers killed in action.
The march is set on April 11 at 4 a.m. from the People’s Park to the Capas National Shrine in Tarlac.– With Ric Sapnu
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