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Excerpts of Corazon Aquino’s Speech on National Heroes’ Day With PM-Philippines

August 31, 1987

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Following are excerpts of President Corazon Aquino’s speech Sunday during a National Heroes’ Day ceremony. The remarks were in English:

Imitation is the greatest tribute. The fallen heroes of yesterday are honored today by those we shall bury beside them. .. .

Civilian agent Joseph (Galleta) threw himself between my son and the bullet intended to kill him. He was seriously wounded. All these men are from the Presidential Security Group that repulsed a treacherous and cowardly attack on the lives of the president and her children by rebel military forces.

The aim of the rebels was clearly to kill the president and her family. The size and ruthlessness of the attack, the treachery that marked it, the brutality of the rebels who fired on civilians, and the timing, when a significant portion of the presidential security had been deployed in three provinces ... proves beyond a doubt their murderous intentions.

But the P.S.G. was prepared. Col. Walter (Gazmin) had earlier received intelligence of the coup and readied his forces. I have made the right choice of officer to lead the palace guards.

The P.S.G. fought with courage and ferocity of tigers. They threw themselves into a couterattack that stunned and turned back the rebels who fled to the short-lived safety of Camp Aguinaldo.

On the first anniversary of this special force, I said the armed forces as a whole are the shield and sword of the republic but the Presidential Security Group is the armor protecting the heart of the republic.

The P.S.G. has well deserved the tribute, my gratitude and that of our people. ...

Scores more were wounded in the armed forces and police that held fast to their loyalty to the republic and to their honor as Filipinos. I hope I will be forgiven for not mentioning all their names for I have yet to receive the total list.

In that roll we must include the many unarmed and innocent civilians who were mercilessly slaughtered by the rebel forces for expressing their support for democracy and President Aquino. ...

Poorly armed and outnumbered policemen and police trainees relieved the siege of Channel 4 led by crack rebel troops and went on swiftly to attack the other rebel-held television station.

This action draws belated recognition to the bravery and skill of our police forces.

Someone told me before, ″Take care of your marines and they will take care of you.″ The marines certainly have. ...

The marines threw themselves with their famous energy and courage into the fight to liberate Camp Aguinaldo. ...

Gen. (Antonio) Sotelo and a small group denied the air force to the rebels although they had been betrayed by the second in command. ...

Again, I beg the indulgence of the many officers I have not mentioned and of the great majority of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who joined in defeating those who seek to bring shame and contempt to the armed forces.

Throughout the land, officers and men stood by their oath to the commander- in-chief and held their forces and regions fast to the colors and the constitution of the republic.

Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos led and directed with his deputy ... this great effort to preserve democracy.

For the past 18 months, it has become clear to me that Gen. Ramos and I have begun to share common enemies.

And also for the past 18 months, I and Gen. Ramos have crushed every threat to this government and our democracy.

Last Friday taught them the most bitter lesson and we shall teach them again if they want it. These traitors and murderers of unarmed civilians have been calling themselves idealistic. Let not idealism be used to cover the darkest crimes and ambitions of men whose actions only show their hatred of democracy and their contempt for the lives of their people.

For one of the most important elements of idelism is truth. One cannot be idealistic and a liar. The rebels call themselves nationalistic. They dishonor that name. They dishonor the word. But if ″nationalism″ means to put our country over all others, ″patriotism″ means putting our country over ourselves.

Last Friday showed that in our country today there are still more patriots then cowards.

Last Friday’s valiant action also brings us closer to our dream of our military unity. I have thought that the spirit of reconciliation would close the fissures in the armed forces. But now I see that only a common cause, a common danger and a common fight for the right can forge an iron bond of unity in the armed forces.

First in peace, first in war, the armed forces and their commander-in-chief stand here and say to our heroes buried in this sacred field, ″We have kept the faith.″ Thank you.

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