Gov’t workers, barangay volunteers show support for Duterte
Busloads of government workers and barangay volunteers occupied Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, on Thursday to show support for President Duterte, amid nationwide protests against him.
Just before noon, the Inquirer saw at least six buses pull over by the side of the public square and drop off hundreds of government workers and volunteers from the cities of Valenzuela and Caloocan in Metro Manila and from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said it issued special permits to 22 buses and 20 vans to serve as shuttle service on Thursday.
The Plaza Miranda event was organized by the President’s party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and groups that helped the President in the 2016 elections, such as the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee and Digong Duterte Supporters.
Earlier, Malacañang suspended classes in public schools and work in government offices to celebrate the National Day of Protest.
Police estimated the crowd that came to Plaza Miranda at 1,400, as of 11 a.m.
Tina, a street leader from Valenzuela City’s Barangay Marulas, said her group joined the rally “voluntarily” to express support for the administration’s policies, particularly against the illegal drug trade.
While she was alarmed by the thousands of deaths in the war on drugs, Tina said that at least in the case of her barangay, those who were killed “were really drug users and peddlers.”
As their gathering coincides with the 45th anniversary of the imposition of martial law, Tina reminded the youth attending the rallies “to really know what really happened” during the dictatorship.
“I’m a martial law baby. I’m already 45. I have no memory of that [period], how much more the youth?” she said.
Most of the people from Caloocan and San Jose del Monte cities wore shirts showing support for the country’s shift to a federal form of government.
Those who came from Caloocan said they belonged to antidrug groups in their barangays.
Those from San Jose del Monte said they were barangay volunteers, but when asked by the Inquirer what sort of work they do, a woman who refused to give her name said, “like this.”
Benny Antiporda, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority board member and one of the organizers, said the event was meant “to show the truth.”
Asked what that truth was, he said, “That many are happy [with the government’s policies], and that only a few are complaining.”
Antiporda, who stressed that he came to Plaza Miranda as a private citizen, said Malacañang had no hand in the event, which was be attended by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.