MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will attend this week's Independence Day celebration, Malacañang said on Thursday— only the second time for the commander-in-chief to take part in the rites during his administration.
Duterte, who is into his final year as President, will join "in person" the June 12 celebration outside Metro Manila, said his spokesman Harry Roque. He said he could not say where due to security considerations.
"Ang mensahe po natin, talagang ang Pilipino, sa mula't mula iaalay ang buhay para sa kalayaan ng inang bayan," Roque said in a press briefing.
(Our message is Filipinos from the start will sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the motherland.)
The President attended his first Independence Day rites in 2018 in Kawit, Cavite, where hecklers shouted "Duterte traydor (traitor)," "Duterte patalsikin (oust Duterte)," and "Hunyo a-dose, huwad na kalayaan! (June 12, false independence)."
Vice President Leni Robredo led the celebration the following year, while Duterte opted to spend the day with government forces.
Last year, Duterte's Independence Day participation was limited to a taped message, as the Philippines battled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte, who has pursued what his administration has described as an independent foreign policy, has been criticized for nurturing friendly ties with China despite its repeated incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
Video courtesy of PTV