TACLOBAN CITY- How’s for a former American president as the commemorative speaker for this year’s Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration? In an interview, Leyte provincial administrator Vincent Emnas said that they have invited former US president Bill Clinton to grace this year’s Leyte Gulf Landings celebration this October 20.

He, however, said that they have yet to receive a response on their request for the 42nd president of the United States to attend the annual commemorative program heralding the Philippines liberation from Japan’s military control. Emnas said that the idea for America’s third-youngest president to attend the Leyte Gulf Landings commemorative program, came from suggestions of Leytenos now living in the United State.

“(And) as early as last year, we already sent an invitation (to the former American president) but still no confirmation yet” added Emnas. Clinton, who served as president from 1993 to 2001, would become the first ever American president to grace the occasion which is now on its 70th year. But in a separate interview, Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said that Clinton declined the interview due to the forthcoming midterm elections in the US. The governor also said that they have extended an invitation to President Benigno Aquino to grace the occasion. The President attended the Leyte Gulf Landings commemorative program on 2011.

Gov. Petilla said that considering that Leyte was hard-hit by supertyphoon Yolanda, this year’s celebration would be low key. The celebration has a theme “Leyte 1944, Leyte 2014, Yesterday’s Heroes, Today’s Inspiration in the Road of Recovery.”  Meantime, the governor said that they are coordinating with the Department of Tourism to help refurbish the site of the commemoration, the MacArthur Park National Shrine, which sustained some damages.

In fact, the life-size statue of Filipino diplomat par excellence and general Carlos P. Romulo was toppled during the onslaught of Yolanda. The bronze-painted statue of Romulo has since been repaired. (LIZBETH ANN ABELLA/ROEL T. AMAZONA)