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MANILA, Philippines – The hype on social media was that, in at least 18 other cities and municipalities across the country, supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte would hold rallies simultaneous with the one in Manila on Thursday, November 30, to push for the establishment of a revolutionary government (RevGov).
From reports gathered by Rappler journalists, it appeared plans fizzled out in some areas.
MNLF crowd in Davao
While the pro-Duterte crowd peaked at 5,000 in Mendiola in Manila, the second biggest gathering was in the President’s home city of Davao, where hundreds gathered at the Crocodile Park Concert Grounds, owned by his friend, businessman Philip Dizon.
Duterte, however, didn’t grace the event, even though organizers said they had invited the President.
The event, which organizers initially said would gather “millions” of participants, mustered hundreds instead, most of them members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who are supporting the administration’s initiative to shift to a federal system of government.
Some participants came from as far as Lanao Norte, bringing with them posters that bore the names of different states and substates, among them “Iranun Substate,” “Kutawatu State,” and “Mt Apo Substate.”
“At least this is the people’s initiative,” Rolando Olamit, a Davao City-based leader of the MNLF and one of two people who wrote to Duterte on November 6, asking him to be at the November 30 rally at 3 pm.
Olamit said despite Duterte’s absence, they would continue to urge him to declare a revolutionary government.
Small gatherings in Bohol
There was no organized rally in Bohol in Central Visayas, from where Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr hails. Donald Borja Sevilla, a leader of Evasco’s Kilusang Pagbabago grassroots movement, told Rappler that the idea of a grand rally discussed by certain individuals a week ago fizzled out.
Bohol police director Senior Superintendent Felipe Rivera Natividad said they had been monitoring the province’s 47 towns since Thursday morning, November 30, but received no reports of rallies.
Superintendent Patricio Degay Jr, Tagbilaran City police chief, said no group or individual applied for rally permits at city hall.
There were, instead, a couple of small gatherings reported.
In the afternoon, some students from the Bohol Institute of Technology were seen marching around Tagbilaran’s Plaza Rizal, but authorities couldn’t ascertain if it was a political activity. BIT is owned by Bohol Vice Governor Dionisio Balite, a Duterte supporter.
In Dauis town, about 100 members of the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood (PGB) converged late afternoon on Thursday at the public plaza. It was a show of support for President Duterte, said University of Bohol professor Nelson Vargas, regional founder of the PGB.
He said their group backs the idea of giving Duterte “provisional extraordinary powers to help him accomplish his promises.”
“I believe he is our last man standing for the masang Pilipino (Filipino masses),” Vargas said.
Dozens in Baguio
In Baguio City, the pro-Duterte activity started with a motorcade of 10 private cars with their windows closed and bearingn small RevGov posters on the sides.
Their rally was transferred from People’s Park (which became unavailable as the city was setting up for its Christmas lights and sounds show) to the Igorot Park beside Burnham Park.
The rally started at 3 pm with a country and western band playing until 4:30 pm to await the arrival of their guest speaker, lawyer Larry Gadon, the complainant in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The rally was organized by former Councilor Bong Tabora, Harry Dominguez, and Larry Madarang.
There were 50 people wearing red shirts, the color of choice for the RevGov rally in Manila. The rest of the people were the usual park habitués, like the manicurists, chess players, and those lining up for their jeepney ride back home.
Federalism forum in Tuguegarao
What appeared to be the biggest pro-government gathering outside of Manila on Thursday was not a rally. In Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, thousands attended the federalism seminar at the People’s Gym in Tuguegarao City.
A source from the Tuguegarao city government said around 2,500 people attended.
Mayor Jefferson Soriano said the seminar was organized by his local political party in support of the administration of President Duterte. It would be the first of a series of seminars to “discuss the salient points” of federalism, to be conducted in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The event was titled “Tapang at Malasakit pasa sa Mabilis na Pagbabago,” borrowing the first phrase from the name of a movement launched by presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Meanwhile, members of the Hukbong Federal Movement of the Philippines-Cagayan Valley chapter held a caravan in Camalaniugan town to express their support to the revolutionary government. – with reports from Mick Basa, Michael O. Ligalig, Frank Cimatu, and Raymon Dullana/Rappler. com