TACLOBAN CITY- For the second time, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino will be the guest speaker for this year’s annual commemorative program of the Leyte Gulf Landings. The President, who first attended the annual commemorative program in 2011, is expected to announce on what his administration has done so far on its rehabilitation effort in areas, including Leyte, devastated by supertyphoon Yolanda, said Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla.

Petilla said that considering of the current situation of the province, this year’s commemorative program will be simple. This year marks the 70th year the country was liberated by the American forces, led by legendary Douglas MacArthur, from the Japanese invaders. The President is expected to deliver his commemorative speech around 9 a.m. at the MacArthur National Shrine, itself suffered destruction during the wrath of Yolanda. This year’s commemorative program carry the theme “ Leyte 1994, Leyte 2014, Yesterday’s Heroes, Today’s Inspiration In The Road to Recovery.” The governor also said that with Mr. Aquino coming to attend this year’s Leyte Gulf Landings anniversary almost a year after the province was pummeled by Yolanda, he could make personally make an assessment on the status of ongoing projects relative to the government’s rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

“It is better for the President to see the status of the rehabilitation. This way, he could assess it personally,” Petilla said. Also expected to grace this year’s occasion are Ambassadors Philip Goldberg of the United States; Bill Tweddell of Australia; Asif Ahmad of the United Kingdom and Toshinao Urabe of Japan. Petilla announced that since Leyte suffered its worst crisis since World War II, the province is now poised to bounce back as he claimed that it is now on the road to recovery. During this year’s commemorative program, all members of Allied Forces will join the event as represented by their ambassadors and other embassy officials in the country, including Japan. “Japan as always, will join the occasion,” added Petilla.

A simple re-enactment will be held with participation of Australian Navy where two of its battleships are to be sent to the province for the occasion. The Australian Navy also constructed a marker at the McArthur Park National Shrine. The governor added that they also allotted a space for other members of the Allied Forces if they also wish to construct a marker at the McArthur National Shrine. Petilla also clarified that the repair done at McArthur National Shrine was funded by the Department of Tourism at a cost of P70,000. (ROEL T. AMAZONA with report of LIZBETH A. ABELLA)