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126th Independence Day: Marcos leads Rizal Park rites

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos will lead today the commemoration of the 126th anniversary of Philippine independence, which comes as the country grapples with challenges from its longstanding maritime row with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos will lead the flag-raising ceremony and wreath laying in Rizal Park in Manila.

Simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying rites will also be held in Kawit, Cavite; Malolos City, Bulacan; San Juan City; Manila North Cemetery; Caloocan City and Angeles City, Pampanga, according to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

A vin d’honneur or formal reception for diplomats is traditionally held during Independence Day.

The Parada ng Kalayaan 2024 will be held in the afternoon, featuring 22 floats depicting key historical events.

Filipino girl group BINI will perform after the parade.

President Marcos on Sunday invited Filipinos to celebrate the anniversary of Philippine independence, giving assurance that the government is continuously defending the country’s freedom and sovereignty.

At recent camp visits, Marcos highlighted the need to strengthen the military’s external defense capabilities but clarified that the Philippines is not waging a war against anyone.

China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea has led to the harassment of Filipino fishermen and water cannon attacks against coast guard vessels.

The West Philippine Sea is a portion of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral tribunal voided China’s wide-reaching claim in the South China Sea, but the Chinese government refuses to recognize the ruling.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. yesterday assured Filipinos that the government and the military will protect the country, though he did not specifically mention China and the West Philippine Sea.

Filipinos should continue honoring and supporting veterans and soldiers, he said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. also gave assurance that the military is dedicated to protecting the state.

“Alongside patriotism, unity is our strength as we remain committed to building One Strong