Duterte heckled as he leads Independence Day rites in Cavite

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — Heavy downpours and a protest met President Rodrigo Duterte's first Independence Day speech at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite.

When Duterte began his speech for the country's 120th Independence Day, less than 10 demonstrators started chanting, "Hunyo 12, huwad na kalayaan! Duterte patalsikin, pasista biguin!"

 

The President remained calm, acknowledging the protesters' right to express their thoughts and feelings.

"Mahal ko kayong lahat, pati mga nagprotesta," he said.

He asked the police to deal with the demonstrators "peacefully with maximum tolerance."

"Indeed the story of how our fathers fought for our sovereignty and established a Filipino nation shall forever inspire us to cherish the freedom that we enjoy today," he said in his Independence Day speech.

The President also talked about his administration's unrelenting war against illegal drugs.

"I am talking about this because this is also independence. We cannot move kapag may pamilya kang isa na may tama, your family becomes dysfunctional. Then contaminate another," he said.

He also talked about his willingness to talk to the communist rebels.

Minutes before the flag-raising ceremony, Duterte shared a few words with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua. The Philippines and China are currently dealing with the issue of members of the Chinese Coast Guard taking the catch of local fishermen in Scarborough Shoal.

Related: China to punish Coast Guard members in spat with PH fishermen – envoy

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo led similar rites at the Luneta Park in Manila.

Robredo was not slated to deliver a speech, which was why she sent her message through a statement.

Robredo said despite our declaration of independence 120 years ago, Filipinos are still facing threats to our democracy, including the rising prices of basic goods and the territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea.

"Sa harap ng lahat ng ito, hindi magpapatalo ang Pilipinong kilala ko. Sa halip, ang Pilipinong kilala ko ay maninindigan nang buong giting para ipaglaban ang ating kalayaan," she said on Tuesday.

Amid the Independence Day celebration, several protests are also scheduled today.

For some members of militant groups, today is a "Hindi-pendence Day" because they said we are not truly free from U.S. imperialism and China's rule. The group Anakbayan held a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati.

CNN Philippines' correspondents AC Nicholls, Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.