Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte showed that they were also a force to reckon with when they held a vigil at Rizal Park on Saturday to prove that they are behind the government’s campaign against illegal drugs which suffered a snag with the recent involvement of some police officers in the abduction and killing of a Korean businessman.
Organizers of the event had hoped that a million people would show up, but the police estimated the crowd at 200,000. Organizers however put the number at 400,000.
Members of various groups and sectors from various regions held the prayer rally to prove that Filipinos are one with the President in his desire to stamp out the drug menace, criminality and corruption.
Organized by the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), PDP-Laban, Kilusan Pagbabago, Friends of Rody Duterte (FORD) and Hugpong Federalismo, the prayer vigil and rock concert started at around 5 p.m. and will end Sunday morning.
MRRD-NECC chairman Gene Mamondiong said corruption must be stopped from the smallest government unit to national government agencies.
Bobby Brillante, a member of the group, said the Luneta vigil “complementes” the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA people power revolt.
“We want to make sure that freedom and democracy will continue to stay,” he said.
Undersecretary John Castriciones of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the public should support the President’s initiatives and advocacies, particularly the campaign against illegal drugs and corruption.
“These advocacies must be supported by everyone. This is not colored by any political affiliations, but rather it is an advocacy that can be supported even by ordinary citizens,” Castriciones said.
Top government officials who are members of the MRRD-NECC had defended the chief executive from a supposed ouster plot and urged the people to support the president’s advocacies.
The group, which claims to have convinced Duterte to run for President, launched the ‘People’s Support on Duterte’s War Against Illegal Drugs, Corruption, Criminality and Poverty’.
Participants lighted candles and listened to the stories and testimonies of victims of illegal drugs.
Castriciones earlier said the vigil does not aim to counter the 31st anniversary celebration of the EDSA Revolution.
“This is not a political activity. We also believe in the advocacy of the EDSA revolution. The EDSA revolution caused for change, and this time change we would like to advocate to fight the evils of the community – the evils that are destroying the fabric of our society, families that had been destroyed because of the illegal drugs, and those people who had been victimized by heinous crimes being committed by the so-called drug users. That is our purpose: the corruption, the poverty, which is the bottom line of all these problems,” he said.
“We are not competing with everyone. What we are trying to do is we would like to unite with them, unite with everyone that there must be a genuine effort from all Filipino citizens to really advocate for change so that we will be able to promote good. What we want is genuine peace, we want people to be united, and we want people to really coordinate to show for our love of our country,” the government official added.
WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER