President Aquino: More Opportunities Mean More Freedom

"Freedom from hunger, coupled with increasing opportunities to advance in life, is the foundation upon which we are building a society that allows its citizens to enjoy all other freedoms," said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in his Freedom Speech on 21 January 2016.

The Freedom Speech is an annual event organized by FNF Philippines to discuss the state of freedom in the country.

President Aquino noted that while European Liberals favor smaller governments to allow individuals to live their own lives, the Philippines as an emerging nation, "needs a more robust government to ensure that our people are able to avail of services that allow them to live with dignity, and with the possibility of advancement."

"Whatever the differences, it is clear that Liberals all over the world have always stood for freedom: The freedom of the individual to take hold of his own destiny, and to live with dignity as all should," added President Aquino.

FNF Regional Director for South East and East Asia Siegfried Herzog lauded the Aquino Administration for initiating reforms that encourage freedom and responsibility. "The heroic task of fighting for freedom is one, but the mundane and more difficult path is to step by step build institutions that make freedom a reality - making sure that institutions of society are built around the idea of freedom, of giving people opportunity, of giving people choice. This I believe is what this administration has pursued in the last six years. President Aquino has taken great strides in making this a more fully lived reality in the Philippines," said Herzog.

The event, held at Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila and organized by FNF Philippines, was attended by 250 guests. President Aquino acknowledged that Fort Santiago was "the most fitting venue to celebrate freedom; to reaffirm our commitment to fight for it; to declare what it means to be a Liberal, as reflected in our uniquely Filipino experience." Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned and executed at Fort Santiago for advocating freedom from colony under Spain.

President Aquino delivered the fifth Freedom Speech. "Five years ago in the inaugural Freedom Speech, Butch Abad asked the question: "Are we free enough?" Liberals being what they are, we would probably reply with a wholehearted "Never!". But we would also have to admit, that we have come a long way." said FNF Philippines Country Director Jules Maaten.

"So much has been gained, in such a short period of time, and so much is at risk. We dare not take the reforms for granted. Abandoning the straight path now, would be the worst possible course that the Philippines could take. So far as we are concerned, for the next years, too, our motto has to be diretso lang sa tuwid na daan," remarked Maaten.

The occasion was a celebration of FNF Philippines' campaign It's All About Freedom. Freedom Flames were presented to Chit Asis, Manolo Quezon, Stella Quimbo, and Paulynn Sicam. Winners of the I Am Free To Dream Comics Competition were awarded by Pugad Baboy Creator Pol Medina, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Kael Co, who also sat in the panel of judges.

The evening was made more special by performances of Noel Cabangon, and renowned shadow artists El Gamma Penubra. The guests also hung candles on the trees surrounding Fort Santiago as a symbol of optimism for clean and honest elections, for the continuity of Daang Matuwid, and for a brighter Philippines.

The full text of President Aquino's Freedom Speech is available here.

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Posted by FNF Philippines: It's All About Freedom on Thursday, January 21, 2016