PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday urged Filipinos to emulate Andres Bonifacio’s “strong sense” of civic duty and courage as the country commemorated the revolutionary hero’s 158th birth anniversary, which was also marked by protests. 

In his speech at a historical shrine in San Juan City, Mr. Duterte encouraged the public to actively participate in nation-building efforts, such as activities that address the country’s coronavirus situation.  

“The bravery and patriotism of Gat Andres Bonifacio and many of our forebears who fought against foreign dominators must serve as our guiding post in beating the odds that hinder our progress as a people and as a nation,” said Mr. Duterte, who led a foreign policy pivot to China when he took office in 2016.  

The tough-talking leader has been accused of gambling Philippine territories to appease China, from which he got about P1.2 trillion in investment and loan pledges to boost big-ticket infrastructure projects. But critics said few have materialized.  

Progressive groups, meanwhile, commemorated Bonifacio Day with protests in the capital, recognizing him as a member of the working class who took up arms against foreign colonizers and local traitors.   

The tandem of presidential aspirant and labor leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” De Guzman and vice-presidential candidate Walden Bello joined protesters as they tried to march to the national hero’s famous shrine in the Philippine capital, which is just a few steps away from the office of Manila City Mayor Francisco Isko” M. Domagoso, another contender for the presidency.  

“What happened here is clear: Isko took advantage of his power as mayor to push out his rivals from the scene,” said Herbie Docena, a sociology professor who is campaigning for Mr. De Guzman.  

Mr. Bonifacio worked as a messenger and warehouse keeper before he founded a revolutionary movement called the Katipunan composed of workers, peasants, and members of the middle class.  

In April 1897, a faction of the revolutionary movement arrested him for treason and was executed by firing squad. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza