Duterte hails pandemic frontliners as modern-day 'Rizals'


Posted at Dec 30 2020 10:47 AM | Updated as of Dec 30 2020 02:43 PM

Duterte hails pandemic frontliners as modern-day 'Rizals' 1
A security guard keeps watch in front of the Rizal Monument in Manila on April 9, 2020, the Day of Valor.

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said frontliners helping the country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic are the modern-day equivalent of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, whose death is marked by the country on Wednesday. 

Rizal's writings "ignited a stronger sense of nationalism and revolution" against Spanish colonial rule, said Duterte. 

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"Today, we see many 'Rizals' fighting for our people, this time against an unseen adversary—a pandemic. We have our brave frontliners who continue to serve the nation in their unique capacities notwithstanding the risks to life and limb," the President said. 

"In them, we see a new expression of heroism that is truly inspiring," he added in his Rizal Day message. 

Duterte urged the public to "continue to celebrate Jose Rizal and our modern-day heroes, to learn from their example, and to express the love and respect of a grateful nation."

Rizal's novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo "were viewed as the guiding force for other patriots to rally for the country’s cause," in the 1896 Philippine Revolution, according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines website. 

Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896 by a firing squad on Bagumbayan Field (now Rizal Park) on orders of Spanish authorities. He was convicted of rebellion, sedition, and for supposedly forming an illegal association.

It was General Emilio Aguinaldo who, in 1898, declared that December 30 of every year be a day of national mourning. In 1902, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 245 declaring it Rizal Day and made it one of the official holidays in the Philippines.

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