MANILA- A lawmaker urged the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte Monday to view National Heroes' Day as a reminder to protect Philippine sovereignty.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III said present-day Filipinos owe it to heroes of the past to "protect the peace and sovereignty of our nation which they have fought for."
"At the forefront of this duty should be the government. I urge the current administration to view this day as a reminder on its obligation to assert our rights in our territory and protect our national interests," Cabochan said in a statement.
The congressman said the Philippines at present is facing threats from "foreign aggressors," likening the case to the colonization period.
"Our nation at present is seemingly being brought back to the times when our independence was being threatened by the colonizers. Our control now over our waters, and even our lands, are being challenged by foreign aggressors," he said.
"We, the present generation of Filipinos, should not let our nation be trampled on like this."
The Philippines' claims in the South China Sea have long been challenged by Asian superpower China, which has ramped up its militarization efforts in the resource-rich waterway.
President Duterte will fly to China this week to discuss the maritime tensions with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
The President skipped Monday the commemoration of National Heroes' Day because he was "indisposed," said his former longtime aide, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
But in a statement, the President urged the public to be "everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society."