President Aquino leads 73rd ‘Araw ng Kagitingan’ rites in Bataan
(PILAR, Bataan) President Benigno S. Aquino III honored war veterans during the commemoration of the 73rd Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) at the Mt. Samat Shrine here Thursday.
The President was joined by United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Colonnade area of the shrine.
In his speech, President Aquino acknowledged the contributions made by war veterans in preserving the country's sovereignty and in defending national security.
"Sa araw pong ito, muli tayong nagtitipon upang bigyang-pugay ang kolektibong kagitingan ng mga nakipaglaban sa panahon ng digmaan. Kasabay ng paggunita sa kanilang kabayanihan, naninindigan tayo, kasama ang ating mga naging kakampi at katunggali noon, bilang nagkakaisang mga bansa sa pagtataguyod ng malawakang kapayapaan at kaunlaran sa mundo," the President said.
He said that for the veterans’ bravery, it is only fitting that their rights be protected and promoted.
"Sa mabuting pamamahala, higit pa nating pinapabuti at pinapalawak ang natatanggap ninyong mga benepisyo. Pangunahin po nating tinututukan ang paglilinis at pagsasaayos ng listahan ng mga beteranong nakatatanggap ng ayuda, sa ilalim ng Pensioner’s Revalidation Program,” he said, noting that it is only fair that legitimate veterans receive full benefits, and that no unqualified individual would ever receive a share.
He reported that the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) has improved the enforcement of the Validation Program through formal agreements with banks, financial institutions, local civil registrars, and other government agencies.
“Ang good news po: Ang records po ng ating mga beterano, digital na, at hindi na mano-manong inililista. Dahil po sa mga inisyatibang ito, ang validity rate ng pensioner accounts list natin nitong 2014 ay nasa 99.95 percent na. Ang perang inilaan para sa inyo, diretso na pong pumupunta sa inyo,” the President said, adding that last month, the number of pension accounts of living veterans and of dependents of injured or deceased veterans handled by the PVAO has reached 198,169.
He further said that the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and 601 other public hospitals in various parts of the country are ensuring that veterans receive health care.
Part of their efforts, he said, is the provision of daily medical subsidies for veterans when they get confined at a health facility; financial assistance for operations concerning cataracts, coronary angiogram, angioplasty, cardiac bypass, and chemotherapeutic agents; and subsidies for such medical products as orthopedic implants and prosthesis, hearing aids, and dentures.
President Aquino also noted that since July 2010, the government has been providing educational assistance to 15,571 dependents of war veterans.
"Sa ilalim ng Educational Benefits Program ng PVAO, mayroon tayong financial assistance na umaabot hanggang P36,000 kada taon para sa bawat kuwalipikadong mag-aaral. Ang pondong ipinagkaloob natin dito mula nang tayo ay manungkulan ay P305.2 milyon," he said.
"Nakikita na po natin na ang sakripisyo ng ating mga beterano, sinusuklian na ng estado," the President said.
This year's commemoration carried the theme, "Ipunla ang Kagitingan sa Kabataan, Ihanda ang Beterano ng Kinabukasan," which is a call to action that embodies the advocacy of preparing the youth to be future defenders by instilling the values of valor, patriotism and self-sacrifice by our forefathers in attaining freedom, peace and democracy. PND (jm)