His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III;
Honorable Carlos Jericho Petilla, Governor of Leyte ;
Honorable Mimietta Bagulaya, Vice governor of Leyte ;
Honorable Remedios Petilla, Mayor of Palo;
Distinguished Veterans and Guests;
Distinguished Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great honor for me to join you all today at the 67th commemoration of the Leyte Gulf Landings.
As I stand on these shores, I cannot help myself reflecting on the hardship, pain and the ultimate sacrifice our forefather had to bear. More than a million Filipinos, half a million Japanese, and tens of thousands of Americans and allied forces perished in the Philippines during those fateful years. I solemnly pray with my greatest tribute for those souls. I hereby express our heartfelt apologies with a deep sense of remorse to the occurrence of such a tragedy.
We have learned the lessons of history. For the last sixty-six years we have not sent a soldier abroad to combat, no weapons were exported and the people are fiercely supportive of our peace-loving constitution.
At the same time, I also reflect on this podium how the relationship between the former adversaries has changed.
After the great East Japan Earthquake, the US forces in Japan launched operation “Tomodachi”. 16,000 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen, 140 aircrafts and 15 naval vessels including the aircraft carrier Ronald Raegan was deployed under this operation. The forces executed search and rescue, transported relief goods, cleared the debris, reconstructed life lines and provided equipment to contain the nuclear disaster. Australia, Canada, New Zealand also pitched in their support.
When H.E. President Aquino visited Japan last month, President himself, despite the very heavy schedule, visited the disaster-affected area, Ishinomaki. By declaring “Japan has been very helpful toward us every time we are struck by calamities. At this time when they are the ones faced with difficulties, it is only right that the Philippines returns the goodwill Japanese have shown”. One million US dollars was donated to the reconstruction effort in Ishinomaki, The Japanese are forever grateful to you.
I am confident that by continuing to work closely together, sharing the fundamental values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights, we will attain our common goals of peace and prosperity for all.
Mabuhay! Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!