By Roy C. Mabasa
Ukrainian non-resident Ambassador to the Philippines Alexander Nechytaylo sees some “striking similarities” between Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in their ability to inspire and lead a nation during the crucial moments in the history of their respective countries.
Nechytaylo made this observation in a statement sent to Poliko.ph to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Ukraine.
“At a closer look, one may find some striking similarities between him (Rizal) and President Zelenskyy, particularly when it comes to the ability to inspire and lead the nation during the pivotal moments of its history,” the top Ukrainian diplomat assigned in Manila said.
Like democratic-loving Filipinos, Nechytaylo said Ukrainians proved that freedom and social justice are the core values embedded in their DNAs even at the “darkest hours” of their history.
“This sentiment can certainly resonate with the people in the Philippines that have a proud history of their own struggle for independence,” Nechytalo said as he quoted Rizal in one of his writings: “I don’t see why I should bow my head when I could hold it high, or place it in the hands of my enemies when I can defeat them.“
In the same statement, the Ukrainian envoy also thanked the Philippines for consistently supporting Ukraine in its current fight for freedom and to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity over Russia’s unprovoked military invasion.
“We are equally grateful for the most recent decision (of the Philippines) to open the door to Ukrainians who might temporarily need a safe place in the midst of this raging war. This is something we will never forget,” he said.
Looking back, Nechytaylo said he found connection with the “kind, compassionate and hard working people” of the Philippines when he made his first trip to the country back in 1997.
“Ukraine and the Philippines enjoy excellent bilateral relations. This month our countries mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. I feel immensely honoured and privileged to represent my country here as Ambassador,” he said.
The Philippines and Ukraine established formal ties on April 7, 1992, five months after Manila recognized Kyiv’s independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Regarding the current situation in his country, the Ukrainian envoy did not hide his anger over what he described as “cruel, unjust and unnecessary war” inflicted by Russia to Ukraine.
“Humankind is witnessing with disbelief the horrific crimes taking place in the middle of 21st century Europe,” said Nechytaylo, adding that the Russian invasion has already resulted in tremendous humanitarian crisis with thousands of civilian casualties, six and a half million internally displaced persons in Ukraine and another 3,5 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
“It is a tragedy caused by the sick imperial ambitions of an economically underdeveloped, but overstuffed with nuclear warheads regime living in a nostalgic hallucination,” he added.
Nechytaylo cited the horrific scene in Bucha, a small town near Kyiv where a mass burial site was discovered after the Russians “retreat with hundreds of corpses, bodies of raped women and girls, tortured and executed civilians, some with their hands tied, lying on the streets.
The Bucha incident, he further said, “has already become a gruesome symbol of Putin’s vision of ‘neutrality’ and ‘denazification’ for Ukraine and brought back the memories of Srebrenica.”