At the site of the Fall of Bataan in the 21st century, converged one wartime enemy, one former conqueror and liberator of the Philippines, and the present leader of the Republic of the Philippines.
The trio are in peace and harmony with each other, as opposed to what happened to the site over 70 years ago.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Japanese ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa and US ambassador Philip Goldberg converged at the site, vowing to work closer together on the anniversary of the “Fall of Bataan” — marking the surrender of US and Philippine forces to Japanese invaders in 1942.
In facing new challenges like maritime security and “terrorism” at a World War II memorial event, the relation between the three countries are more rigid and closer than ever.
“We stand united with former allies and foes in continued pursuit of widespread peace and prosperity throughout the world,” Aquino said at the Mount Samat shrine overlooking the Bataan battlefield.
Aquino cited the swift assistance extended by the US and Japan particularly during disasters like Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 as an example of the generosity of these two countries.
Like with former Japanese ambassadors in the country, Ishikawa expressed apologies in behalf of Japan for the wartime atrocities in the past.
“I wish to express our heartfelt apologies and deep sense of remorse for all who suffered during those fateful days. We all remember and never forget what happened here,” Japanese ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa said at the same event, adding that Japan has since improved and established friendly relations to atone for its actions before.
US ambassador Philip Goldberg hailed the valour of the Filipino and American soldiers in World War II and also praised the 44 Philippine police commandos who were killed in January while hunting down two militants on the FBI’s “most wanted terrorist” list.
“Whether we are fighting terrorism or responding to the devastation of natural disasters, we face them together. And when the Philippines is threatened, it is not alone,” Goldberg affirmed.
Further confirming the trio’s unity, Goldberg then declared, “Let us not forget that 70 years after the end of World War II, we are joined in our efforts to protect the security and defense of this region by Japan. Yesterday’s enemies are today’s allies and strategic partners,”