Message by Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Mat Kimberley
73rd Anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings
20 October 2017
Lt. Gen Oscar T. Lacto (Armed Forces of the Philippines)
Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla (Governor, Province of Leyte)
Mayor Remedios Petilla (Mayor of the Municipality of Palo)
Fellow Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
Veterans, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Maupay nga aga ha iyo ngatanan.
I am honoured to be here this morning to represent the people of Australia and, in particular, the men, women and veterans of the Australian Defence Force.
On days like today we commemorate the bravery and heroism of those who fought so bravely in these seas, in the skies above, and on this land, to begin the immense task of liberating the islands of the Philippines 73 years ago.
Today’s liberation events remind us of the enduring friendship that Australia and the Philippines share in both good times and in bad.
Until 2015, very few knew of the 4,000 Australian service personnel who were among the liberation forces, or of the 92 who died during the Philippine campaign. I am proud that Australia’s contribution is now recognised by a solemn memorial, situated directly behind me, that was officially dedicated during the 70th anniversary of the landing. We are grateful to the Office of Veterans Affairs and our friends in The Armed Forces of the Philippines and to the local government of Leyte for ensuring that Australia’s part in the allied victory, here and throughout the pacific, continues to be so respectfully and graciously acknowledged.
Some veterans of the Leyte campaign are here with us today. Their selflessness, commitment and valour serve as a timeless example to us all of just how much can be achieved through solid alliances and shared common values.
The great battle in the pacific has taught us that the success of coalitions and alliances rests heavily on a spirit of cooperation common values, and practice of joint exercises and training.
This spirit of cooperation is still present today and is at the heart of the very close relationship we share with the armed forces of the Philippines, and with other allies and friends represented at this commemorative service.
Just last week, we were honoured to welcome President Rodrigo Duterte aboard the HMAS Adelaide. The president spoke to the officers and crew of The Adelaide. He highlighted the need to work together with allies to deal with common threats we face today.
Like those who came before them, the crew of Adelaide were very keen to work alongside their Philippine counterparts. The visit providing an opportunity to train together and forge new friendships.
Australia has been there with our Filipino friends, shoulder-to-shoulder, deep in the heat of battle or rebuilding at peace time. That legacy is most evident here in Leyte.
At this ceremony today, i would like to take the opportunity of reaffirming the common values and deep friendship that we Australians share with the people of the Philippines.
To the local government of Leyte and the people of Tacloban and Palo, thank you for your generous hospitality every year as you welcome back the veterans and those who come to remember.
Salamat at mabuhay!