Supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Manila held a rally at the Rizal Park on Saturday to make what they called a last ditch effort to convince the tough-talking mayor to run for president next year.
However, yesterday’s event dubbed Million People’s Call only gathered more than three thousand people.
Duterte himself did not show up. At 6 p.m., retired general Hermogenes Esperon, former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, went on stage and read a text message from Duterte who said he was in Zamboanga City.
The mayor asked for more time to decide whether he will run or not.
Former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol said some businessmen pledged P1 billion for Duterte’s campaign fund. Piñol said the traders called themselves “Anonymous Patriots for Peaceful and Progressive Philippines or AP4”. The group is led by Benigno Gopez, a former waiter at the University of Santo Tomas who became a successful businessman. He said his members, mostly his close friends, do not want to be named.
Meanwhile, a piso donation for the presidential campaign of Duterte was also launched yesterday.
Dante Jimenez, founder and chairman of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said his more than 2,000 members will support the mayor of those who have declared their intention to run for president, only him can change the country.
Manuel Serra Jr., Davao regional president of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban party, said he believed Duterte will eventually run.
“That is his character, he will keep on saying that he will not run but actually he will,” he told The Manila Times.
Raul Lambino, a lawyer of Pam¬panga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said Duterte believes in people empowerment and discipline as vital components of progress.
Duterte has repeatedly said that he is not eyeing the presidency because he plans to retire from politics when his term ends as chief executive of Davao City in June next year. But despite his protestations, the mayor has placed third or fourth in presidential poll surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS).
“His ratings will surely shoot upwards should he declare that he will run for president. People are tired of traditional politicians and pretenders and want genuine change,” Dave Diwa, lead convenor of the Run Duterte Run Volunteers (RDRV), said in a media forum in Quezon City.
Members of RDRV come from the urban poor, senior citizens, workers, women and students and out-of-school youth.
Diwa said Duterte has three options —run for reelection, retire from public service after four decades of career in local politics or seek higher office.
“We don’t want to put pressure on Mayor Duterte or create any more problems for him as he makes a crucial decision in his political career but we want him to listen to the clamor of the people for him to run for president, he told reporters.
Diwa’s group said the rally at Rizal Park is a “gathering of supporters to demonstrate their support for Duterte and convince him and his family that the country needs him at this point in time.”
“This is our way of telling Mayor Duterte that while we understand his predicament, he must once more offer himself to serve the people who look up to him not as a punisher but as a savior of our country,” Diwa explained.
Meanwhile, Terry Tuazon of Manila Taxi Drivers Volunteers for Duterte 2016, said that they want a president who has the capability, competency and a person who will make the country peaceful.
“We need a president who has a good track record. He brought peace in Davao, he stopped crime and made businesses prosper. We want someone who has the guts, capability and concern for the people,” he said.