Robredo leads Independence Day rites as Duterte opts to visit troops

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — The country's second highest official led the 121st Independence Day rites in Manila on Wednesday as President Rodrigo Duterte chose to spend the day with government forces.

Vice President Leni Robredo, joined by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, led the flag raising and wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Park.

In her Independence Day message, Robredo called on the public to never forget the lessons of history and honor the sacrifices of the forefathers who fought for the country’s freedom. At the same time, she reminded Filipinos of their responsibility to defend and preserve that freedom for future generations.

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the ceremonies in Manila. Malacañang said he will instead spend the day in Lanao del Sur to meet with troops.

In his Independence Day message, Duterte urged Filipinos to ensure that a "truly independent Philippines" will happen during their lifetimes.

During his first Independence Day speech in 2018, Duterte was heckled at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. Duterte also skipped the Independence Day rights in Manila in 2017, which would have been his first since taking office on June 30, 2016.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also led simultaneous Independence Day rites Wednesday in Caloocan City and Malolos, Bulacan respectively.