MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Tuesday the Filipino victory against Spanish forces in the Battle of Mactan 500 years ago should serve as "warning" to foreign powers that seek to occupy Philippine territory.
Datu Lapu-Lapu and his warriors defeated Western firepower led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in Mactan island, Cebu on April 27, 1521.
Lapu-Lapu “reminds one and all of what it is to be a Filipino, to be great, to stand up against colonizers, and to offer our lives for country and our people,” said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.
“Let this be a warning to foreign powers that seek to occupy territories that belong truly to the Filipino,” Roque said during the opening on Monday of a Cebu museum that commemorates the Victory at Mactan.
“As President Duterte has said, we want to be friends with everyone, but make no mistake, 500 years ago, we made Lapu-Lapu into a hero. And today, many of our Filipinos would become heroes defending territory that is truly ours,” he added.
Foreign powers should perhaps “learn from the Filipinos’ past,” he said.
“It was here in Cebu that we had initial contacts with our Spanish brothers and sisters, but it was also here in Cebu that the Filipinos told the whole world, ‘We will die for our country,’” said Roque.
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines did succeed despite Magellan's slay in Mactan, and the country was under Spain's rule for over 300 years.
Roque's statement came following the government's diplomatic protests against a swarm of 240 Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.
Roque declined to expound on his statement, saying he was not referring to any particular incident. He said “history itself speaks for itself, and we do not need to make any further pronouncement.”
“I’m not referring to any particular issue, I’m just reminding the whole world of Philippine history, the proud moment when the Philippines stood up and prevailed against colonizers,” he added.
Duterte “will do what he thinks is best for the country,” Roque said, when asked if the President would consider a foreign policy shift away from China.
“Importante po na ang Presidente ay gumawa ng tamang desisyon maski ito po ay hindi popular,” he said.
(It is important that the President makes the right decision even if it's not popular.)