Video and Full Transcript: President Aquino delivers Independence Day 2014 speech in Naga City

Manila, Philippines - President Benigno 'PNoy' Aquino III delivered his speech for the 116th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at the Plaza Quince Martires, Naga City.

President Aquino delivers Independence Day 2014 speech in Naga City

Some of the government officials present at the ceremony are Naga City Mayor John Bongat, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Third District Represenative Lenie Robredo, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Villafuerte and Camarines Norte Governor Egay Tallado.

Here's the full transcript of PNoy's speech tranlated to English laguage:

It has been one hundred and sixteen years since our national anthem was formally played and our national flag was unfurled in Kawit, Cavite, as symbols of a free and unified Philippines. On that day as well, the Philippines declared its independence: a country unshackled from foreign chains, composed of citizens who had control of their own destinies.

This is what we commemorate today. For us, the 12th of June is a culmination of all the sacrifices, the battles, and the triumphs our ancestors underwent to achieve independence from Spain. We are all aware: The goals of our heroes were not fulfilled overnight. It was the result of facing and overcoming multiple setbacks and challenges, and of the cooperation of several people united by one purpose: to live dignified lives, free from oppression. There was the Propaganda Movement, which planted the seeds of change in the minds of Filipinos; the Katipunan, which grew to become a refuge to many of our heroes; the many encounters between Filipino guerrillas and Spanish forces; the publication of two novels by Gat Jose Rizal, and his martyrdom in Bagumbayan on the 30th of December 1896.

No single region can lay claim to the courage, the nobility, the revolution, and the liberty borne from it. Filipino blood was shed in various parts of this country to nourish the ambition of a nation free and united.

It is here, truth be told, where we commemorate the 15 martyrs of Bicol every January 4. After they were captured, tortured, and sentenced after only one day of trial, 11 of the 15 sons of Bicol were hung at Bagumbayan, five days after Gat Jose Rizal was executed. Two of the four who survived died in prison, and the two who remained were sent to exile in a prison at Fernando Po island in Africa and there soon expired, too.

It is clear to us now: The events of the 15 martyrs were the spark that ignited revolt in the Bicol region. Prior to this, Bicol’s yearning for freedom might not have yet reached a critical point; pockets of dissent in the rest of the country were of little concern. After the 15 Bicolanos were martyred, citizens could no longer be silent. Perhaps this was the Bicolanos’ question back then: Whatever happened to due process? Is it not true that every victim of detention and torture that is broken will confess to anything to stop the torment? If this could happen to them—priests, teachers, writers, lawyers, merchants, and public servants—could it not be said that ordinary people may also be taken, tortured, exiled, detained, and executed without due process? Even if the allegations were true—that they were Katipuneros—can we call the mockery of due process and human rights done to the 15 martyrs justice?

It is important to reflect on our history, especially now that we are treading the path towards reform and justice. We are all well aware of what is happening at present: Several prominent personalities have been charged by the Ombudsman on the issue of the plunder of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF). Their response to the accusation: We are being singled out for political reasons. It would be only fair to remind everyone: News about Benhur Luy’s illegal detention first broke during the height of the 2013 electoral campaign. There were stories about fake nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) used in stealing public funds. Back then, I instructed Secretary Leila de Lima to carefully study the case; I told her that no accusations should be made without sufficient proof. Thus we followed the correct process: an investigation was initiated; evidence was and continues to be collected, which ultimately led to the filing of cases. We could have rushed this from the onset, bringing to court accusations without sufficient proof—if our intention was to simply damage the reputation of the candidates accused. However, as you have witnessed, we chose to pursue the truth by using the proper system. And now, after all that we have done, we are the ones being called out for politicking? I leave it to you now to choose who is telling the truth.

Times like this, I remember what my father used to tell me: “In a true democracy, every person is required not merely to protect the right of those they agree with, but to defend even the rights of those with whom they disagree. If the rights of any one is disregarded, there will come a time when your own rights will be disregarded.” My father himself knew what it was to experience injustice. A year before Martial Law was declared, my father had told Mr. Marcos that it was the Chief Executive’s duty to bring him before the court, since he had accused my father. My father, however, only faced trial when Mr. Marcos had the whole nation under Martial Law. My father was court-martialed, with the military judging over the fate of a civilian. In a court where the judges, the lawyers, and the witnesses themselves were men of Mr. Marcos—the very person who filed the case against my father—the dictatorship forcefully tipped the scales of justice. In short, Mr. Marcos was accuser, judge, and executor. Without doubt: the rod of justice was bended.

My family’s legacy taught me the importance of fighting for equality to break the cycle of vicious injustice. Now that I am in a position to apply these principles, I will continue to do everything in my power to proffer justice not to a select few, but to the entire nation.

History has, after all, taught us: Events that occur in one part of our archipelago affect the destiny of the entire nation; winning the battle against oppression, corruption, or poverty in one province contributes to the revitalized country that we all work to attain. This is also the idea behind the projects and initiatives initiated by your government. There is the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, which will stimulate the tourism sector and develop trade and communication within the country and beyond. The proposed one-stop Migrants Resource Center in Naga is part of our agenda to bolster the qualifications of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in different parts of the world; while the extension of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) charter that Congress passed aims to give birth to possibilities, not only for the provinces traversed by the railway, but for every Filipino who will benefit from the many opportunities brought about by a vibrant economy.

Ending corruption and the abuse of the system anywhere in the Philippines—whether in the local or national level—will create stronger institutions that will better serve every Filipino. Each of us has something to contribute so that the sacrifices our forefathers made for us will not have been in vain. Two years from now, we will once again choose our country’s leaders. The challenge for us is to elect candidates who can fight for the welfare of every citizen in the face of any kind of adversity. We do not need those whose words are merely dictated by scripts, nor do we need talented dancers or fantastic singers. Instead, it is our duty to create a Philippines more just and prosperous than that which we have come to know.

In the course of history, we continue to defend and uphold the dreams of our forefathers: After the fall of the First Republic founded in Malolos, we fought off those who invaded our lands. We rose up from the ravages of war. We overthrew a dictatorship through peaceful revolution in 1986. Now, heroes who uphold the various forms of freedom around the many parts of our country continue to emerge: The marines stationed at Ayungin; Jesse Robredo here in Naga; the millions of people who gathered in EDSA. This is what the teachers who toil away to guide our students, and what the soldiers and police who protect our territory and security, uphold. This is what our professionals and public servants accomplish in fulfilling their tasks from one day to the next.

As heirs of the freedom that those who came before us fought for, each and every Filipino has a responsibility to ensure that our country will never return to the conditions of the past—to a situation that once again necessitates the sacrifices of so many Filipinos. After all, is this not the measure for our success in bringing about meaningful change—when our countrymen are no longer asked to make such grave sacrifices?

On this Independence Day, together, we pay tribute to the heroes who fought for what was right and what was just. May they inspire us, as we continue to tread the straight path. Let us take to heart and live out the lesson they have bequeathed to us: that it is care and compassion for our fellowmen that will allow us to realize the aspirations we share as one people. Only in this way can we say that we are truly worthy of their sacrifice; only in this way can we bring about a truly just, truly free Philippines.

Good day, and thank you.

WATCH: President Aquino's 116th Proclamation of the Philippine Independence Speech (Video) 

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