METRO MANILA, August 19, 2003 (STAR)  Filipinos should keep alive and uphold the values that the late Senator and Filipino martyr Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. died for, values that should be inculcated in the minds of the country’s youth.

This was the strong appeal of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza today as he expressed concern that many Filipinos, especially the youth of the present generation, are now taking for granted the hard-won freedom and democracy that we are now enjoying.

"Many of our countrymen seemed to have forgotten that our present democratic way of life was attained at a very heavy price. Some ten thousand Filipinos, including Ninoy, lost their lives in the struggle for freedom and democracy and some one hundred thousand were jailed without the benefit of due process because they dared to fight martial rule," said Atienza, who was jailed twice during Martial Law for speaking out against the abuses committed by some military officials.

At the same time, he appealed to people to resist the temptation of romanticizing the adventurism of some quarters in the military, noting that such naked attempts to grab power is an injustice to the memory of Filipinos who fought martial rule.

"The mutiny of some junior officers and enlisted men in the military is a manifestation of this messianic complex that took root during Martial Law. What we are experiencing is the tail-end effect of martial rule, where a culture of military superiority over the civilian population was bred and encouraged," Atienza emphasized.

He also stressed that the country would only prospect under a democratic dispensation where people are genuinely empowered to collectively pursue national development, even a she pointed out that the past has shown that the restrictive conditions under martial rule, which is not conducive to progress, spawned widespread poverty. "Our present condition will not improve with military control over our national life so let us not entertain the false hopes that these adventurism are offering."

In a related development, Atienza announced that the City of Manila is set to unveil a new statue of Ninoy Aquino at the Roxas Blvd. Baywalk to commemorate the latter’s 20th death anniversary, saying that the likeness of the Filipino martyr would also serve to remind Filipinos of the struggle that was waged to restore democracy in the country.

The bronze statue, which is about six feet tall, was rendered by world-renowned Filipino sculptor Julie Lluch. The sculpture depicts Ninoy pointing towards the horizon of Manila Bay.

The unveiling ceremony is scheduled at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21, 203, with former President Cory Aquino as guest of honor, and members of the Aquino family, Ninoy’s close friends and fellow freedom fighters as special guests. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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