President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged Filipinos to exhibit the heroism exemplified by the nation’s heroes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country celebrates its 122nd Independence Day.

Duterte, who delivered his message on a taped broadcast, did not attend the Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park today and was proxied by Defense Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

“As we wage a united battle against Covid-19, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate that we possess the same gallantry of spirit and the nobility of character as the heroes of our past,” Duterte said.

“Let us now move forward with courage, hope, and optimism as we overcome this pandemic,” he added.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte’s absence from the Independence Day rites was due to the current restrictions on mass gatherings.

Medialdea led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony in Luneta.

This year’s Independence Day is themed “Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa Bansang Malaya, Nagbabayanihan, at Ligtas.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro