One Cebu and Duterte’s prayer rally: ‘Where is everybody?’

John Sitchon

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One Cebu and Duterte’s prayer rally: ‘Where is everybody?’

RALLY. Rain or shine, supporters of ex-president Rodrigo Duterte attended the Sunday Cebu Prayer Rally at the South Road Properties on Sunday, February 25.

It was only Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama and his fellow councilors who were present during Duterte's prayer rally in Cebu despite his having showed full support for its top leaders in the previous elections

Only one Cebuano official got the spotlight during the Cebu Duterte Prayer Rally at the South Road Properties (SRP) on Sunday, February 25, and his name is Mike.

With his signature flat cap, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama sang praises to his allies from the Duterte faction and expressed his opposition to people’s initiative as a means to amend the constitution.

“It is not a people’s initiative. It has become a congressional initiative…We are not for sale,” Rama said in his speech.

The prayer rally was organized by Duterte supporters who felt that it was their duty to demand accountability and transparency from the current Marcos administration amid claims of “signature-buying” and manipulating citizens to support charter change. 

The mayor attending the rally called for some form of ceasefire between the now warring clans and reminded them of how they managed to bag “one of the biggest” election rally crowds through the power of “unity”

Speaking of unity, where exactly were the rest of Cebu’s esteemed high-ranking officials, and whatever happened to One Cebu?

Loyalty test

As early as Tuesday, February 20, organizers of the Cebu prayer rally announced that top political figures would be present during the event. 

The list included Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, and even comedian Willie Revillame. 

Organizers added that there would be invitations sent to religious leaders and that the event was “open” to public officials, including the President.

However, it appeared that Cebu’s top officials had other commitments that were far more important than the former president’s rally, which would have been a great show of force for the ex-president. 

There were no signs of Duterte-related activities or meet-and-greets on the official social media pages of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, or even Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and the provinces’ media arm Sugbo News.

All of them were absent despite all being endorsed by the Davao strongman in the previous election.

Only Cebu City’s teleradio portal Sugbuanon Channel covered the prayer rally and published Rama’s speech with an emphasis on the mayor telling the President and Vice President “to do their jobs.”

Close to two years ago, the mayors and Garcia did not miss photo opportunities with then-candidates Sara Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the UniTeam and One Cebu Island festival rally on April 18, 2022. 

So what’s changed?


Vice President Sara Duterte joked, in a speech posted by Radyo Pilipinas Cebu in February, about how Garcia told her that the governor supported Cebu City’s bid to host Palarong Pambansa 2024, but not its mayor.

There was also discomfort between Rama and Garcia who argued over the conduct of Cebu’s biggest festival, the Sinulog, at the SRP in Cebu City in January 2023.

To recall, Rama pushed through with the Sinulog at the SRP, despite the governor’s advice to stick to the traditional venues like the Cebu City Sports Center in consideration of the festival participants’ safety and weather conditions.

Their feud continued through their press statements, and eventually, Garcia, along with the city mayors of Mandaue, Talisay, and Lapu-Lapu, pulled out their contingents for what was supposed to be the “One Cebu Island” Sinulog 2023 festival.

Garcia tried to dispel rumors that there was conflict between the province and the Cebu City government over the venues of the Sinulog festival in January 2024, but claims of a rift in alliances still spread across social media.

It seems that much like the Sinulog, Garcia and the mayors also pulled out of the Cebu Duterte Prayer Rally without so much as a Facebook post with Rodrigo Duterte himself. –

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