Drawing from the lessons of World War II, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson on Tuesday highlighted the importance of countries with shared values and friendship to cooperate closely to ensure peace, security, and prosperity in the region.
In a video message commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Leyte Landing, Robinson paid tribute to all those who took part in the Philippines campaign during WWII, including the 4,000 Australian soldiers who contributed to the success of the military coalition against the Japanese.
“The great battle in the Pacific 76 years ago serves as a timeless reminder that the success of military coalition operations ultimately rests on shared values and friendships. And there is a special mateship called ‘Bayanihan’ that ties Australians and Filipinos together based on history, geography, and a shared vision of what this region can and should be,” he said.
At least 92 Australian combatants died during those battles that also saw the participation of two of their largest naval ships at the time – HMS Shropshire and HMS Australia.
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, the province of Leyte opted to mark the 76th anniversary of the historic Leyte Gulf Landing with a simple celebration with no mass gathering.
Ambassador Robinson vividly recalled the memorable moments of last year’s Leyte Landing commemoration where two Australian veterans from HMS Shropshire and others who served on other Australian vessels, all in their ‘90’s, graced the occasion. These veterans, he noted, returned to the Philippines from various parts of Australia, “to honor their mates who did not return, to reunite with the veterans and the people of the Philippines and to ensure that the heroics of all combatants in the battle was not lost to the sands of time.”
“During the whole event, I felt the genuine and heartfelt gratitude of many nations who had gathered there to remember the brave deeds of those who fought for the liberation of the Philippine Islands in 1944,” the Australian envoy added.
Despite the absence of physical commemoration of this year’s 76th anniversary of the Leyte Landings, Robinson stressed that this in no way diminishes the sense of gratitude and honor that should be bestowed to the combatants of that momentous military encounter.
“Their selflessness, their commitment, and valor served as the timeless example to us all,” he said.