2022 Philippine Elections

Belmonte invites Defensor to meeting on Marcos-Duterte use of QMC

Dwight de Leon
Belmonte invites Defensor to meeting on Marcos-Duterte use of QMC

LANDMARK. The Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Shutterstock

Quezon City Joy Belmonte also presents documents to the media to prove that the city government never rejected Mike Defensor's request for the Marcos-Duterte tandem to use the park for a political rally

Mayor Joy Belmonte’s Quezon City hall has invited her 2022 mayoral opponent, Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor, to a “coordination meeting” on the latter’s request to reserve a part of the Quezon Memorial Circle for an activity of the tandem of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

But Belmonte – who has been the subject of recent online vitriol among the tandem’s supporters – reiterated that the city government never denied Defensor’s request, contrary to the congressman’s claim in his TV show on Saturday, November 27.

“We are open to your request for the use of the Liwasang Aurora of the Quezon Memorial Circle on December 6 to 9, 2021,” the city government wrote in a letter to Defensor on Tuesday, November 30, which was read by Belmonte during a press briefing the same day.

“Before granting your request, we propose having a coordination meeting first to set ground rules to ensure the safety of park goers,” the letter added, which proposed a December 2 meeting between Belmonte and Defensor.

What was the timeline?

On November 25, Defensor wrote to the QMC asking that its “activity area” be reserved for a Marcos-Duterte event on December 8.

On November 26, the city government said it “interposes no objection” to Defensor’s request to use the QMC covered court.

On November 27, Defensor slammed Belmonte for giving the Marcos-Duterte camp a “small venue” to hold their political rally.

A day later, Defensor also sent links to videos of the 2016 miting de avance of the Mar Roxas-Leni Robredo tandem, which took place at the park. Belmonte was vice mayor at the time.

‘Not a small venue’

Belmonte’s camp, however, insisted that the QMC covered court was not an ordinary basketball court, as it can accommodate 3,000 people sitting down, “with social distancing.”

“I have no idea at the time that this would offend him,” Belmonte said, noting that presidential aspirants Isko Moreno and Christopher “Bong” Go had also used the venue before without complaints.

While Defensor claimed in his November 29 letter that “we were clear that we wanted the Liwasang Aurora as our venue,” Belmonte insisted her 2022 opponent did not specify in his letter that he wanted to reserve the open-air place.

“It seems to me the good congressman has not visited the Quezon Memorial Circle, but there are many activity areas there. The one that is the biggest, newest, and the nicest is the one that we offered to him,” she said.

The city government said it is open to allowing the Marcos-Duterte camp to use Liwasang Aurora, but noted that an event there could pose risks to unvaccinated children who use the venue.

“The area that you requested is a child-friendly zone, which is reserved for children and their families to enjoy quality time with each other,” the city government also said in its November 30 letter to Defensor.

Rappler has sent an email to Defensor, asking him for a reaction to Belmonte’s latest statements. This story will be updated once he replies.

Defensor – who has received Marcos’ endorsement – is seeking to unseat Belmonte in 2022.

There are 1.3 million registered voters in the Philippines’ most populous city as of 2019. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.