Thousands of supporters of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte partied in Davao City Saturday to celebrate the former mayor’s electoral victory.
Rock bands and break dancers entertained the crowd at the Crocodile Farm on the outskirts of the city.
The privately-organized thanksgiving party dubbed “One Nation, One Love” started at 1 p.m. More than 4,000 policemen and other security personnel were deployed to secure the area, which was declared a no-fly zone.
Members of the media were not allowed inside an enclosed area near the stage. Event Organizer Kat Dalisay said they received instructions not to allow journalists to set up near the stage early yesterday. No reason was given for the change in policy it came a day after Duterte’s executive assistant Christopher Go announced that the former Davao mayor will stop holding news briefings. Duterte was apparently displeased because of the furor caused by his statements on media killings, which was widely reported.
Aside from Davao residents, Duterte’s supporters from Luzon and Visayas came in droves to join the merrymaking.
Among the artists who performed were Vice Ganda, Ahron Villaflor, Carlos Agassi, Gary Vergara, Andrew E., Paolo Snatos, Lord Dulat, Kimmy Bondoc, Bernardo Bernardo, and Beverly Salvero.
There were also other artists from Davao, Visayas and Mindanao.
Security was tight as police confiscated prohibited items such as hats, umbrellas, spoons, forks and backpacks.
“I’ve always been a Duterte supporter because he knows how to discipline people, especially the youth,” said mother-of-six Emma Abubakar, 50, wearing a red shirt with Duterte’s name printed on it.
Duterte supporter Ronnel Bernales said he was taking advantage of the thanksgiving party to celebrate his political idol as well as to make some money.
“I came here as a supporter and for an opportunity to sell,” the 28-year-old told AFP. He had already sold 10 of his P250 “Du30” shirts in less than an hour.
Vendors were also selling sun hats, key chains, and other memorabilia, some printed with Duterte’s election campaign slogans.
No press briefings
Go on Friday said the president-elect decided to stop holding news conferences to avoid being misquoted.
“Sa ngayon walang press con para walang mali [For now, no more press conferences so there is less room for mistakes],” Go told reporters.
He said Duterte will tap state-owned television station PTV-4 for his press releases and interviews.
On Thursday evening, Duterte challenged reporters not to cover him following calls on Philippine media to boycott him because of his controversial comments.
The former mayor said he will just relay his messages to Rocky Ignacio, a reporter of the government-run broadcast network.
Duterte has been under fire recently because of statements made in the past few days.
He was roundly criticized for saying that some journalists were killed because they were corrupt.
Duterte later clarified that statement, saying journalists fall into three categories – those who are honest, the “PR” persons and the “vultures.”
It is the vultures who are killed because of their corrupt ways, the President-elect said.