Duterte, PDP-Laban campaign rallies: Showbiz, insults, late night rants

Camille Elemia

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Duterte, PDP-Laban campaign rallies: Showbiz, insults, late night rants
People spend 8 to 10 hours in a single PDP-Laban campaign rally, led by President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Eight- to 10-hour gatherings filled with song and dance numbers, insults against critics, and late night rants led by President Rodrigo Duterte define most PDP-Laban campaign rallies for the 2019 elections.

These rallies have attracted both politicians and crowds alike because of Duterte’s presence.This has become PDP-Laban’s edge over another administration party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago. 

However, Duterte’s presence is both boon and bane to an extent – advantageous to politicians seeking his endorsement and a challenge to many supporters and onlookers who spend up to 10 hours in just one rally.

While HNP conducts an average of 2-3 sorties a day, with 2-3 hours per sortie, PDP-Laban mounts only one major rally per day. Stricter measures are implemented in a presidential event but Duterte’s late arrivals and lengthy speeches make it all the more difficult.

On the other hand, Otso Diretso candidates, owing to lack of support from local politicians, opt to conduct market visits and dialogues per day. One dialogue usually lasts 2-3 hours.

Rappler takes a look at how the ruling party pitches itself to the public and how Duterte, the party chairman, leads the campaign.

The hours-long wait

PDP-Laban rallies usually start around 1 pm. But attendees arrive earlier, around 11 am to 12 noon, due to the security checks conducted by the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Rappler spotted rented buses, jeepneys, and other vehicles that ferry people to the venue. Just before the entrance to the venue, there were people asking others to sign the so-called “attendance sheet.” Packed food was also given to attendees.

The rallies end anywhere between 10 pm to past midnight, depending on the time of Duterte’s arrival and the length of his speech, which usually exceeds an hour. More often than not, Duterte arrives at least an hour late, which, in turn, further delays the event.

There were even times when the President did not appear at all. He skipped a grand rally in his hometown of Davao City and another one in Marawi City, disappointing the people eager to see or meet him.

Duterte would usually start his speech by saying he won’t make it long, but in the end still rambles for an hour or more.

In a sortie in Biñan City, Laguna, Duterte was more than an hour late. As he spoke late into the night, some members of the audience were restless, waiting for the event to finish so they could leave their seats.

Others went to the toilet while the rest decided to walk after sitting down for hours. While those who left their seats weren’t easily allowed to leave the venue, some however managed to leave the Alonte Sports Stadium.

In Marikina, Duterte was in the middle of his speech when he noticed a woman in the audience stand up. He thought the woman was leaving, so he jokingly threatened her not to leave. It turned out the woman was just going to use the restroom.

One man, who works for the barangay, was complaining that they still had an early meeting the following day.

FREE LUGAW. PDP-LABAN gives free rice porridge soup to attendees of the campaign rally in Biñan City, Laguna. Rappler photo

In Malabon, Duterte arrived so late that the rally ended past midnight. Supporters, some of whom brought their children to see Duterte, tried to leave the venue but were prohibited by the PSG, as usual practice. Many of them arrived at the venue as early as 12 noon and endured the summer heat.

“We still have early work tomorrow,” a woman said in Filipino.

“My children are already hungry. They tried to ask permission to get out. We’ve been here since 12 noon,” said another woman in Filipino too.

Some could no longer hide their fatigue, like the elderly lady caught by RTVM sleeping through the speech.

ASLEEP. The woman at the back Is caught napping during Duterte's lengthy speech in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.. Screenshot from RTVM

These complaints are not lost on Duterte, who, despite knowing them, still goes on with his lengthy and confusing speeches. After all, he said, he has to explain his administration to the people.

Hindi ako magtatagal kasi baka[Nagsalita na ba kayo lahat?] Ayaw ko rin tas-an kasi ang reklamo ng mga tao, the usual complaint is that I delivered too long sa speeches ko,” said Duterte in a speech in Malabon.

“But I have to tell you all about me and government, and governance. Kasi kung hindi ninyo maintindihan ang adhikain ko and my advocacy eh wala rin eh. Parang politiko lang na sige salita dito, salita doon,” he added. (Because if you don’t understand my goals and my advocacy, then it’s useless. I’ll be like a politician who just keeps on talking.)

Duterte’s speeches, however, are mostly slurs; rarely does he talk about policy or “advocacy” matters.

Celebrities, song-and-dance numbers

As soon as the rallies start, performers and celebrities also begin entertaining the audience. It does not come as a surprise as PDP-Laban sought the help of Arnold Vegafria, a known manager to the stars. A party insider said some celebrities were brought by local politicians, while others, by the national arm of PDP-Laban.

In Bulacan, during PDP-Laban’s campaign launch, singer Isabella de Leon serenaded the public. Celebrity dancers also took turns on stage. After the main PDP-Laban rally, singer Andrew E. performed for the crowd. Only a few stayed, however, as it was already too late.

In Malabon, actress Valeen Montenegro danced for the audience while another GMA7 star, Ken Chan, also performed.

The entertainment, however, does not end there. Candidates themselves also sing to amuse the crowd.

There’s Bong Go, who goes around the country with Philip Salvador and Robin Padilla – prompting frantic screams and selfie requests from people. Go and Salvador were earlier criticized for using Kris Aquino in their comedy skits. They changed it after the backlash.

Go, Padilla, and Salvador now resort to singing – much to the delight of the fans.

Reelectionist Senator Koko Pimentel and his wife would also sing, usually “Endless Love,” for the audience. Then there’s former top cop Ronald dela Rosa, who also sings and dances.

Early in the campaign, reelectionist Senator JV Ejercito brought 3 former Sexbomb girls with him to dance to his jingle – to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe.”

The 5 PDP-Laban candidates – Zajid Mangudadatu, Dela Rosa, Go, Pimentel, and Francis Tolentino – are given priority in giving speeches. They are followed by the 7 other guest candidates of PDP-Laban, who include Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Imee Marcos, Rafael Alunan III, and Freddie Aguilar.

Insults: Staple of Duterte speeches

Duterte is the country’s most foul-mouthed chief executive by far. His expletive-peppered tirades are a staple of his rally speeches, much like his 2016 presidential campaign.

It has now become a part of his campaign routine. He would alternately insult an opposition candidate and follow it with praise for his preferred bet. Out of all 8 Otso Diretso candidates, only Gutoc has been spared from Duterte’s tongue-lashing.

Si Samira, babae man ‘yan, ayaw ko magsalita diyan. Eh ganun ‘yan ang rule eh pagka babae kalaban mo (Samira is a woman, I don’t want to speak against her. That’s the rule if your opponent is a woman), you just shut up. Samira Ali Gutoc. So I have nothing to say to you, ma’am,” the President said during a rally in Zamboanga City.

Duterte, however, has slammed women critics in his past speeches. These included detained Senator Leila de Lima, former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, among others. (READ: Duterte slams women for ‘depriving’ him of freedom of expression)

Quite ironic, too, that Duterte devotes so much airtime to the Otso Diretso candidates in PDP-Laban rallies. While Duterte himself acknowledged this contradiction, he said it is up to the people to decide.

“They say you should not mention the name of your political rivals lest you run the risk of reminding the public about them. But for me, no. I will let you choose….I’ll give you the basic. Otso Diretso’s candidates will go straight to hell,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English in his speech in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

Here are Duterte’s usual tirades against 7 of 8 Otso Diretso candidates. Some are unproven, erroneous, or downright pointless, especially in the context of an electoral campaign.

Gary Alejano

(Malabon rally): Tanungin ko kayo anong ginawa niya? Nag-coup d’etat, naggulo sila [Sonny] Trillanes. Tapos anong ginawa? Nanalo sa Congress, party list. Hindi mo ma-control eh. Magkaroon man lang sila ng ilang boto, pasok sila. Tingnan mo anong ginawa? Magdalo pa ang partido. Ginulo nila ang Pilipinas at kung ano ang ginagawa, nambabastos ng tao.

(Let me ask you, what has he done? He was part of the coup d’etat and created trouble together with [Sonny] Trillanes. And then what did they do? Their party list won a congressional seat. You could not control it. They just got a few votes, they already made it. What did they do? They wreaked havoc in the Philippines. They disrespect people.)

Bam Aquino

(Puerto Princesa rally): Ano’ng kinontribute ni Aquino? Sige nga. Sa buhay ninyo, anong makita mo na ano? Building…Ako, salita. Puro istorya. Free, free, free. Ako – kami ang nagbigay. Ano’ng sabi ko? ‘Pag ako ang nanalo, sabi ko edukasyon ilibre ko. Sila ang gumawa sa Senado, kanya daw. You were here when I said it. Sabi ko ‘pag ako ang nanalo, libre ang ospital. Ginagawa ko na at gagawin ko. Ano pa ba ang gusto ninyo? Itong Aquino na ito, marami ‘yan sila nagboto tapos kanya daw. Iyan ang mahirap. Ano ang ginawa nila?

(What did Aquino contribute? Tell me. In your lifetime, what did you see? Building…Me, words, pronouncements….I was the one who promised free education. I said then that if I win, I will make education free. The Senate made the law, he said it was his law. You were here when I said it. I said that if I win, hospitalization will be free. I’m doing it and will do it. What else do you want? This Aquino guy is claiming credit when many senators voted for it. That’s the problem. What did they do?)

Chel Diokno

(Bacolod rally): Ito si Chel Diokno, ano ba ito? Babae o lalaki? Ito parang dean sa College of Law sa La Salle. Kaya pala putang ina hindi puma – hindi nagta-top ‘yang La Salle eh hanggang ngayon. Anong ginawa niya? Wala. Sige lang criticize tapos hindi naman marunong.

(This Chel Diokno, is he a girl or a guy? He’s the dean of the College of Law in La Salle. That’s why that son of a bitch school does not top the bar exams until now. What did he do? Nothing. He keeps on criticizing me but he himself is not good.)

(Puerto Princesa rally): ‘Yung tatay niya, doon ako saludo. Pero ito? Kalaki pa ng gilagid, mukha, ‘yung…Pangit. (I admire his father. But the son? He has big gums and a face. He is ugly.)

Florin Hilbay

(Puerto Princesa rally): Ito si Florin Hilbay, solicitor general. Anong ginawa mo? Wala ka namang pinanalong kaso. Tapos lumaban ka kay Bong Go pati kay Bato. Kayong dalawa ni Diokno.

(This Florin Hilbay was solicitor general. What did he do? He did not win any case. And now he’s trying to fight it out with Bong Go and Bato. These two, Hilbay and Diokno.)

Romulo Macalintal

(Bacolod rally): Wala ito. In TV and everywhere else, you look. He is just an election lawyer ‘to. Mayaman ‘to kasi ang mga kliyente niya mga politiko. Otherwise, he’s a nobody and ‘yung mga opinion niya. (This man is nothing. In TV and everywhere else, you look. He is just an election lawyer. He is wealthy because his clients are politicians. Otherwise, he is a nobody and his opinions don’t matter). As if he is the only one who is the lawyer and he would like to presume that what he says is always correct. Excuse me. Pareho tayo abogado. Pareho lang tayo. Pero sabagay 75 lang ako. (We’re both lawyers. We are the same, but well I only got a grade of 75.) 

Mar Roxas

(Malabon rally): Mar Roxas, pinaka-number one na butterfly. Kaya wala akong respeto sa taong ito. Panahon ni Arroyo, trade secretary siya. Panahon ni Aquino, he was a trade secretary, then he moved on to be DOTC, then finally DILG para sa pampulitika. Tapos of course, nakalaban ko man ito.)

(Mar Roxas is the number 1 political butterfly, that is why I don’t have any respect for him. During Arroyo’s time, he was trade secretary. Under Aquino, he was a trade secretary, then he moved on to be DOTC, then finally DILG for political gain. And then of course, we were rivals in the presidential campaign.)

Kaya ako nung sa ano, ‘yung sa debate binabastos ko talaga. Eh wala akong respeto eh. Walang prinsipyo itong taong ito. Sige balik-balik doon sa kubeta, sabi ko, “Mar, ninenerbyos ka ‘no? Pangsampu mo nang balik diyan sa, ‘yang puro, lahat na ihi diyan sa banyo iyo.”

(When we had the debate, I was really discourteous. I have no respect for him. He has no principles. He kept on going in and out of the toilet. I told him: “Mar, you seem nervous. It’s your 10th time to go in there. All the urine in the toilet, it’s all yours.)

Erin Tañada

(Malabon): Walang ginawa kung hindi nung senador magdepensa ng mga Left pati komunista sa korte, pero binabayaran ng gobyerno, the very government na gustong sirain ng komunista. Not in a million years.

(He didn’t do anything when he was senator except to defend the Left and communists in court, yet was being paid by government, the very government that the communists want to destroy.)

Tañada, however, was never a senator. He served as representative of the 4th district of Quezon province. It was his father Wigberto who was senator before.

Late night rants

In his speeches, Duterte also allotted airtime for his other enemies, including columnist Francisco “Kit” Tatad and the media, among others.

He repeatedly slammed Tatad for spreading “lies” about his alleged cancer and poor health – a touchy topic for Duterte. The President, in an attempt to counter claims, went so low that he referred to his penis to shame Tatad. Duterte also dared Tatad to lend him the columnist’s wife to confirm that his old age is no hindrance. All these were uttered while children were in the audience.

“Kaya ikaw Tatad, putang ina ka, ikaw ang confirmed talaga, dahil makita nila sa medisina mo ‘yang ginaloklok mo maski magkain ka sa labas, may diabetes ka for the last 30 years (You Tatad, you son of a bitch, it is you with a confirmed illness, seen from the medicine you swallow even when you eat outside. You’ve had diabetes for the past 30 years),” Duterte said during a rally in Puerto Princesa.

To the delight of the crowd and disgust of many other viewers, Duterte even used the microphone to compare his penis to that of his nemesis.

MIC. President Duterte uses a microphone to hit back at Francisco 'Kit' Tatad. RTVM screenshot

“Ngayon ang iyong otin ay hindi na gumaganun (raises mic). Ang otin ng diabetic gano’n (drops mic). Permanente ‘yan…. Kami ni Al Cusi, pati si governor, gano’n na ‘yan sa edad namin. Gusto namin ng…inom kami ng Viagra,” he added, eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.

[Your penis no longer does this (raises mic). The penis of a diabetic does this (drops mic). That’s permanent. Al Cusi and I, including the governor here, at our age, we’re already like that. If we want… we take Viagra.]

In his late night speeches, the President also made sure to defend his controversial stance on China. He also ranted about the problems of EDSA, even in provinces outside Metro Manila. 

In a veiled attack, Duterte hit a lady senator who blocked his proposed emergency powers, meant to fix the worsening traffic situation in the metro. While he did not name her, it was apparent that Duterte was referring to reelectionist Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee.

Poe earlier said the transportation department failed to provide concrete plans and programs.

“I heard one lady senator. She was so bright that she already saw malice in the emergency powers bill. She said, this is a lot of money you might just steal it. So when I heard about it, I told Congress: ‘Forget about EDSA. Let EDSA rot. I don’t care about it,'” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino during a rally in Malabon.

“Dito ako na lang naghanap ng paraan. Nagpunta ako ng China, nagpunta ako kung saan-saan. Eh kung ganun ang tingin mo sa akin, putang ina, kurakot ha, solohin ninyo (I looked for other ways. I went to China and elsewhere. If that’s how you view me, son of a bitch, corrupt, the money is all yours),” he added.

With all these, many people attending PDP-Laban rallies ended up exhausted. While they are generally supportive of the President, they, too, complained about his late arrivals and lengthy ramblings. 

But despite this, some supporters like Angelina, 41, and Allan, 39, from Malabon, said they would still vote for the senatorial bets allied with the President.

Change has come? The 2019 campaign proves that some things are here to stay. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.