Pantaleon Alvarez, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the huge turnout of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte at the Luneta rally in Manila on February 25 was an affirmation he enjoyed the support of the majority of the Filipino people.
“Clearly, what we witnessed last Saturday… was an affirmation of the people’s strong support for the President—on the basis of the platform of government; that he was given a huge mandate by the people,” Alvarez said in a television interview.
Alvarez said comparison between the turnout in the separate events in Metro Manila on February 26—the 1986 Edsa revolt commemoration near Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City and the Luneta rally—could not be helped.
Alvarez noted that participation in the Luneta event was purely voluntary.
Protesters from different sectors and universities gathered at the People Power Monument near Camp Aguinaldo during the weekend to decry the burial of former President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 18, 2016.
Alvarez also out that Duterte supporters held similar gatherings in several urban centers, including Cebu City, Davao City, Butuan City, and Cagayan De Oro City, among others.
“The Duterte supporters showed the Filipino people is [sic] one with the President,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said while the turnout apparently did not reach a million, there were “enough warm bodies.” Police estimates the number of the Luneta crowd at 215,000.
Alvarez also dismissed allegations the bigger turnout at Luneta was prompted by a memorandum of the Department of the Interior and Local Government which “encouraged” local government units to participate in the event.
Alvarez said such a memo was not necessary.
In the case of the Edsa People Power anniversary celebration, Alvarez said it should not be exclusive to the supporters of the late President Corazon Aquino and former Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
“People Power is for everybody. It does not have exclusivity,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez also said singer Jim Paredes should have tolerated the presence of Duterte Youth at the Edsa People Power anniversary commemoration.
A video of the confrontation between Paredes and the youth supporters of President Duterte has gone viral, where the singer was shown heaping insults on the group who chose to remain silent.
The Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Council (MRRD-NECC) organized the pro-Duterte rally at Luneta event.
Bobby Briliante of MRRD-NECC said the event was not a political display, but a show of support for President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, corruption and poverty.
He said good turn of events that pro-administration gathering coincided with the EDSA revolt anniversary were the country is celebrating the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
“Just to reiterate people’s support for President Duterte sa [for his] commitment to deliver the promise during the campaign. The celebration in EDSA and Luneta should be complementing each other as a celebration of freedom,” Brillante explained.