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Duterte, allies lead anti-Charter change forum, prayer rally in Davao

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Local government officials and supporters of former President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday gathered to attend a leaders’ forum in Davao City ahead of a prayer rally against the signature campaign to push for Charter change.

At the forum, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte expressed his frustration with President Marcos and the government, saying in closing in Cebuano: “If you don’t show love and aspiration for the country, better resign.”

Duterte told supporters at the “Hakbang ng Maisug” forum he blamed Mr. Marcos for the drug and communist insurgency problems in the region.

“Baste” Duterte is the youngest son of the former President, who succeeded his sister, Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, as Davao’s mayor.

According to a MindaNews report, the mayor was visibly upset while delivering his message, cursing about 20 times. He called on the government to use its powers and authority to “fix and handle things which are broken.”

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Davao City Mayor Sebastian ‘Baste’ Duterte speaks during the Hakbang ng Maisug Leaders Forum at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City on Sunday (28 January 2024). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Mayor Duterte also said he was hurt by the way Mr. Marcos used his power for politicking and dramatics, compared to his father who used his to “eliminate insurgency, especially in Davao City.”

His speech happened in Davao a few hours before the President, the

Vice President, and other government officials led the kickoff of the Bagong Pilipinas program at Rizal Park in Manila (see banner story—Editors).

The Vice President said she was one in spirit with the prayer rally organized by various sectors in Davao City against Charter change,specifically the so-called people’s initiative method of gathering signatures from Filipinos to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“It’s important to see and understand the danger that lurks the moment we surrender our Constitution at the hands of people with personal and political interests,” she said in a statement.

“Let us stand up against the changes to our Constitution through ‘Pera Kapalit ng Pirma para sa People’s Initiative’ (money in exchange for signatures),” the Vice President added.

Former President Duterte, who had yet to speak at the forum at presstime, said earlier this month he sees no need to change the 1987 Constitution.

Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte has also come out against the People’s Initiative campaign to amend the Charter and has warned his constituents against “selling” their signatures in exchange for cash or for government aid.

Local government officials and supporters of former President Dutertealso gathered to attend a leaders’ forum in Davao City ahead of aprayer rally that will be held against the signature campaign to push for Charter change.

Among those who attended the “Hakbang ng Maisug” were former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr., and former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, who told GMA News Online that he was invited to be part of the leader’s forum.

Photo courtesy Manman Dejeto/MindaNews

“I’m here as a Filipino exercising my right to speak freely and oppose any attempt to amend or revise the fundamental law throughunconstitutional means and processes via a fake, despotic, tyrannical, and graft-ridden people’s initiative,” he said.

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) hosts Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz were also present.

Badoy and Celiz were both detained and later released from the Houseof Representatives for refusing to disclose who claimed that Speaker Martin Romualdez’s travel fund was at P1.8 billion.

The forum shed light about transparency and accountability of people’s money, explaining how the national budget is allocated and utilized.

A prayer rally against a signature campaign for the people’sinitiative to amend the 1987 Constitution is set to take place in Davao City on Sunday.

Davao 3rd District Councilor Conrado Baluran on Thursday said more than 50,000 people are expected to troop to the city for the “One Nation, One Opposition” prayer rally.

“Together with the calling for every Filipino people to participate in this greater cause for a nationwide campaign, Davao City will remain resilient and will not just stand aside as an observer but shall take part continuously striving to unite for one nation, one strong opposition,” said Baluran in a press statement.

Several legislators previously said they received reports that cash assistance such as the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is being used to lure people into signing the people’s initiative for Charter change.

Under the signature campaign, voters were asked if they were in favor of amending Article 17, Section 1 of the Constitution, which will allow all members of Congress to jointly vote on proposed constitutional amendments in a constituent assembly.

Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte likewise warned his constituents against the signature campaign.

“To all Dabawenyos, do not sell your soul for a mere P100 or P10,000 in exchange for your signature. If you want to follow the minions of the person dreaming to be great in Congress to perdition that is your choice,” he said. With AFP, Ian Carl Espinosa/MindaNews

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