MANILA (UPDATE)-- President Rodrigo Duterte honored Monday Filipinos in the front lines of the country's COVID-19 pandemic fight as the Philippines marked National Heroes' Day.
Duterte paid tribute to frontliners for their heroism in risking their lives as the pandemic upended society.
"Today, we honor not only the valor of our forebears who fought for our mother land’s freedom, but also the heroism of those who risked their lives, fighting a different kind of enemy," the President said in a message aired on state television.
"Present-day challenges posed by the current public health crisis has given rise to modern-day heroes: the countless Filipino frontliners here and abroad who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.
Duterte, in a separate statement, said the COVID-19 pandemic demands a new expression of heroism like the one shown by frontliners.
"In honor of our heroes, let us strengthen our resolve in overcoming the challenges ahead guided by the virtues and standards set by the stalwarts of our nation," he said.
Despite implementing the longest and strictest lockdowns in the region, the Philippines has the highest number of total COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. As of Sunday, the Philippines has reported 217,396 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Filipinos would hopefully be inspired by the bravery of Filipino heroes, he added, as he urged the public to "become everyday heroes as we pursue a better future for everyone."
A day before National Heroes' Day, the President visited state troops in Jolo, Sulu, and condoled with families of victims of twin blasts that rocked the town last week.