Duterte lauds war veterans but says war is not worth it
PILAR, Bataan — Calling all war veterans his heroes, President Duterte on Sunday ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to speed up the release of increases in veterans’ pension amounting to P6.5 billion.
Addressing the veterans during the program commemorating the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan at the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat here, Mr. Duterte said his administration was “prioritizing your entitlements.”
“Our surviving veterans have suffered much. They should not suffer more,” he said. “We have settled the backlog in disability pension. We have also made the management of 2,000 pension accounts more efficient,” he added.
According to Mr. Duterte, the increased pension of retired military personnel would cover fiscal years 2008-2013.
But in his speech, Mr. Duterte also said, “War is never worth it.”
He said the “painful lessons of war behoove all of us in this community of nations to work for peace and development.”
“We are drawn each year on this sacred ground to honor the gallant men and women who paid for the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, our people, and our future,” he said.
He said soldiers who fought in previous wars “did not die in vain.”
“We owe nothing less than this solemn pledge for all those who sacrificed the most for our country’s freedom. Our veterans went through one of the darkest chapters in world history for the benefit of our generation and generations after us,” he said.
“We must never forget that we owe them a deep debt of gratitude,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also cited the country’s alliance with the United States, noting that how the two countries fought together in World War II “must be the basis of present efforts to move forward.”
He described the country’s relations with the US as a “bright area.”
Speaking ahead of Mr. Duterte’s speech, US charge d’affaires, Michael Klecheski, expressed his hope that the celebration would not only be a day of memory but also an opportunity for reflection and commitment to peace.
Klecheski said the US has always cherished stability and has always believed that all international challenges would be overcome “if all nations stand as one.”
Kazuhide Ishikawa, Japanese ambassador to the Philippines, also spoke at the program and quoted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in stressing that Japan “will never again repeat the devastation of war.”
He expressed Japan’s “deep remorse” for the atrocities during World War II. “In these modern times, Japan and the Philippines are allies for peace, development and rule of law in the region,” he said. SFM
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