MANILA — The coronavirus pandemic gives Filipinos the opportunity to emulate the heroism of their forefathers, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Independence Day Friday, as the country continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus infections in the Philippines recently surpassed the 24,000-mark, nearly 2 weeks after Metro Manila and other urban centers eased lockdowns to restart the economy and stop job losses.
"As we wage united battle against COVID-19, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate that we possess the same gallantry of spirit and the nobility of character as the heroes of our past," Duterte said in a taped message.
"Let us now move forward with courage, hope, and optimism as we overcome this pandemic," he added.
The 75-year-old President will stay in Davao City on Friday. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will represent Duterte at the traditional Independence Day rites in Manila's Rizal Park.
Gatherings of more than 10 people are still barred to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the public should move Independence Day protests online, said the Philippine National Police.
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan earlier urged protesters to call their gatherings "mañanita," a reference to the pre-dawn birthday serenade last month for Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas that allegedly violated the ban on mass gatherings.
The anniversary of the Philippines' declaration of independence from Spain is a regular holiday.