[PHOTO AT LEFT - A girl cuts and sews stars on a Philippine flag at a store in Sta. Cruz, Manila yesterday. EDD GUMBAN]

MANILA , MAY 27, 2010 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - After two years of forgoing the usual Independence Day festivities, Malacañang has decided to resume the traditional rites this year but with a twist.

The usual flag raising and wreath laying ceremonies would be held again along with a parade on June 12.

However, National Historical Commission executive director Ludovico Badoy said that this year’s rites would focus on the milestone achievements of President Arroyo in the past nine years.

Badoy said the President’s 10-point agenda would be highlighted and would be depicted on nine floats during the parade.

A total of P10 million was allocated for the 112th Independence Day activities.

The President’s 10-point agenda can be summed up as follows: creation of six million jobs in six years; construction of new buildings, classrooms and scholarships for the poor; decentralization of progress around the nation by developing transport networks; provision of electricity and water supply to barangays nationwide; decongestion of Metro Manila; development of Subic and Clark as the best international service and logistics centers in the region; automation of the elections; a just end to the peace process; and healing the wounds of EDSA.

The tenth item on the list, balancing the budget, was not achieved because of the global recession and successive typhoons that the government had to deal with last year.

Another item on the 10-point agenda, a just end to the peace process, could also be questioned because the government has failed to secure a final peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

However, the administration has claimed to have achieved significant progress in the peace process with the MILF and has cited a number of agreements signed with some smaller groups of insurgents.

Since Independence Day has traditionally been about the nation’s heroes, Badoy said the NHC, as coordinator of this year’s rites, is arranging the appearance of some of the modern-day heroes during the parade.

“We will be focusing on Filipinos being recognized globally. For example, Mr. (Efren) Peñaflorida who was recognized by CNN for the work that he was doing; Manny Pacquiao, (Efren) Bata Reyes and the others like our inventors,” Badoy said.

He admitted that they were still working on the invitations to the personalities he mentioned but assured the public that modern day heroes would be part of the parade.

Badoy said the heroes would be on the Inang Bayan float, presumably the 10th float since only nine of the President’s 10-point agenda were accomplished.

Since the June 12 rites would be about the President’s achievements, Mrs. Arroyo would play a big part in the rites, starting with a flag raising ceremony at the Rizal Park at 7 a.m.

Last year, the President decided to do away with the usual parade and in its place, a mega jobs fair was held in order to provide employment to Filipinos affected by the global financial crisis.

The previous year, the celebrations were also replaced by activities led by the Cabinet members in their home provinces across the country.

Badoy said the Independence Day activities would kick off on May 28 with the celebration of Flag Day to be held at the Battle of Alapan site in Imus, Cavite.

He said the NHC is coordinating with the Department of Transportation and Communications for the provision of free MRT and LRT rides for the public at a specific time on June 12.

While the Independence Day celebrations would be held on June 12, the holiday itself would be on Monday, June 14 as announced by the President last year.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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