Monday, June 12, 2023

DND vows to prioritize welfare of Filipino veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 12, 2023): DND vows to prioritize welfare of Filipino veterans (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (right) (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday said it continues to look after the welfare of Filipino veterans.

"One of the essential tasks or jobs of the Secretary of National Defense is to ensure the welfare of our veterans. Yan po ay patuloy na pinagbibilin ng ating Pangulo sa at sisikapin po natin na masigurado natin na (That was one of the instructions of our President [Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.] and we will try to ensure that) they get the best of care, particularly those who cannot care for themselves," Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in an interview with reporters at the Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion, Manila North Cemetery in celebration of the country's 125th Independence Day.

Teodoro, meanwhile, said the Philippines is for the Filipinos and that their interest must be of paramount importance.

He also urged all Filipinos to study or research the challenges being faced by the country and have more discussions and dialogues so that a better understanding of these issues is reached.

"Para sa ganun, makipag-ugnayan tayo bilang magkababayan, bilang magkakapitbahay, para sa ganoon, lumakas ang ating bansa. Ganun din ang mga kababayan natin na wala dito sa Pilipinas ngayon, na napakalaki ang tulong sa atin. Kami po ay nagpapasalamat din dahil sila ay mga bayani din. Hindi natin sila dapat kalimutan (Just like that, we can communicate like fellow Filipinos and neighbors, through this, our nation will be strengthened. The same should be done with Filipinos abroad, they are a big help to us. We are also thanking them as they are heroes too. We should not forget them)," he added.

Teodoro also said the task of Filipinos does not end with the declaration of the country’s independence from foreign domination.

He likened the country’s independence to a tree or a person that needs to be nurtured.

Honor sacrifices of Filipino patriots

Meanwhile, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) on Monday paid tribute to the valiant men and women who paved the country's path towards sovereignty.

"What made these individuals remarkable was their strength of will which enabled them to stand up against powerful foreign adversaries; their unequivocal love for our nation; and most of all their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow Filipinos," OPAPRU acting Secretary Isidro Purisima said in a statement.

With the country facing pressing social, economic, diplomatic, peace and security concerns, the OPAPRU chief reminded Filipinos to remember the lessons left behind by Filipino patriots who are the country's "champions of independence and apply them as we address the challenges of nation-building."

"All across the globe, it is disheartening to witness nations and governments that are trying to subvert the independence of other democratic, peace-loving countries, and even their own citizens. The Philippines was in this situation before," Purisima stressed.

He also added that Filipinos know how it is to be at the mercy of sword-wielding invaders whose only desire is to impose their will on the colony and rob people of their dignity.

Purisima also emphasized the Filipinos' willingness to fight with "every ounce of our courage and strength to preserve our freedom."

"Independence, however, does not only mean being free from the bondage of colonizers; it means being free from the shackles of violence, fear, mistrust and prejudice that has held our country back from achieving sustainable development and long-lasting peace," the OPAPRU chief emphasized.

Purisima also said the true measure of a nation’s independence is having the ability to fully harness its God-given resources, and create an environment wherein all its citizens can enjoy the dividends of peace and development without foreign intervention.

"To our fellow Filipinos who are in the frontlines and risk their lives everyday to protect our nation’s sovereignty, thank you for your selflessness, dedication and commitment. You are heroes of democracy in the truest sense," he added.

Serve people well, cops told

The Philippine National Police also joined the nation's observance of the country's 125th Independence Day anniversary.

“For our part in the Philippine National Police, the celebration of the 125th year of Philippine Independence is an opportune time to reaffirm our professional commitment to uphold law and order, and help our government achieve lasting peace and sustained progress,” PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said in a statement sent to reporters on Monday.

“In recognition of the fruitful gains that we have established as a nation all those years under a regime of freedom, justice and peace, the PNP continues to be at the forefront of government efforts to make democracy work by ensuring that every Filipino can enjoy the blessings of our hard-won independence, free of foreign control, and threats to peace and stability of our nation,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Gilberto DC Cruz of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission urged Filipinos to remember the sacrifices of the country's forefathers, heroes and ancestors.

“Their unwavering spirits, selflessness and bravery have paved the way for the independence we hold today. The theme of the year’s celebration carries the powerful message that resonates keeping with us,” Cruz said in his message during the Quezon City Police District's traditional flag raising rites. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

DND: Ex-AFP chief Rodolfo Biazon icon of patriotism, integrity

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 12, 2023): DND: Ex-AFP chief Rodolfo Biazon icon of patriotism, integrity (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Former AFP chief and senator Rodolfo Biazon (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) extended its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and lawmaker Rodolfo Biazon, who passed away at the age of 88 on Monday morning.

In a Facebook post, Muntinlupa City Mayor Ruffy Biazon said his father succumbed to pneumonia at 8:30 a.m.

"Sen. Biazon's illustrious career spanned his active service in the military as an officer in the Philippine Marine Corps, and later entering public service as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Throughout his decades-long service to the Filipino nation, Sen. Biazon embodied patriotism, integrity, and commitment to the protection of the country's freedom and its democratic institutions," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

Biazon was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2022. This year, he caught pneumonia twice, the second more serious than the first which had further weakened his lungs.

"He courageously fought his last battle like a Marine would, but it is the Lord’s will which prevails," the younger Biazon posted.

Biazon, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1961, was born on April 14, 1935, in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Before being appointed as the 21st AFP chief from Jan. 24 to April 12, 1991 under the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino, Biazon served as AFP vice chief of staff from 1990 to 1991, Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) commandant from 1987 to 1989 and PMA superintendent from 1986 to 1987.

He was the first PMC member to be appointed as AFP chief.

Biazon also served as senator from June 30, 1992 to June 30, 1995 and from June 30, 1998 to June 30, 2010, and as Muntinlupa representative from June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016.

"Sen. Biazon leaves a legacy worthy of emulation by current and future generations of Filipinos. May God grant him eternal rest," Andolong said.

The AFP also paid tribute to its late chief.

"Gen. Biazon played a pivotal role in defending the country’s democracy and upholding the integrity of our armed forces. His commitment to public service extended into his political career, serving as a senator who championed key legislations that advocated for the welfare of our countrymen," AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a statement.

He added that Biazon's leadership and integrity will continue to inspire future generations of servicemen and public servants.

"The AFP shall provide appropriate military honors to the late Gen. Biazon in recognition of his legacy and sacrifices as a soldier and head of the military," Aguilar said.

‘Model citizen, brave soul’

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez also mourned the passing of Biazon, describing him as “brave soul” who was "summoned back to God's army on a day that we Filipinos associate with bravery."

"That is a fitting tribute to Pong Biazon by the Almighty, telling us to emulate the great Filipino that he was," Romualdez said in a statement.

He said Biazon should be acknowledged for his inspiring and selfless service to the nation, and for being a model citizen.

Romualdez also hailed Biazon for his long body of work as a legislator.

Biazon's filed measures that became laws include Republic Act (RA) 9208, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; RA 9161, reforming the renting industry; RA 7835, Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act; RA 7898, An Act providing for the Modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; RA 7742, amending the mandatory membership to the Pag-IBIG Fund; RA 7901, creation of Caraga (Region XIII); and RA 7889, establishing the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

Also pursued by Biazon were Joint Resolution No. 7, increasing the subsistence allowance of soldiers and policemen; RA 8763, amending the Home Guarantee Corporation Act; RA 9040, tax exemption of allowances and benefits for members of the AFP; RA 9049, granting monthly gratuity and privileges to awarded of the Medal of Valor; and RA 10354, or the Reproductive Health Act.

"Saludo kami sa iyo (We salute you), General. You're one of a kind," Romualdez said.

Fellow lawmakers' tribute

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Biazon brought the same military discipline and commitment to the Senate and to every aspect of his life as a public servant.

“I am grateful for the time that we spent in the Senate together and I am glad we had one last chance to reconnect with him last November, when he attended the Senate reunion. He was as bright and astute as ever, and a fountain of guidance and wisdom for those of us currently in the Senate,” Zubiri said in a statement.

Senator Rissa Hontiveros said Biazon “always answered the call of duty even when he was no longer in office” and was a steady source of strength for women and women’s advocates in the fight for the passage of the Reproductive Health Law.

“Regarded as macho due to his military background, he challenged stereotypes to stand not just for, but with women,” Hontiveros said in another statement.

Senator Grace Poe said the country lost an exemplar soldier and solon.

“His valuable work in fortifying the military institution and in lawmaking will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in these trying times,” Poe stated.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada said their former colleague during the 13th and 14th Congresses witnessed firsthand Biazon's "unparalleled passion for public service and unwavering advocacy for low-cost housing and increased benefits for our soldiers. His wisdom, experience, and exemplary work ethic were always evident, making him an invaluable asset to our institution and a true inspiration to us all.” (With reports from Jose Cielito Reganit, Leonal Abasola/PNA)