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‘Dutertistas’ ready for grand rally in Davao

/ 12:10 AM August 25, 2015

DAVAO CITY—Nearly two weeks since it took off from the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, a caravan of supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will reach this city for a grand rally on Friday, hoping that he will finally announce his plan to run for President in next year’s elections.

“We are expecting around 3,000 vehicles from all over the country to converge here in Davao City on the 28th,” said Mar Masanguid, a village chief in the city and one of the prime movers of the Run Duterte Run movement.

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Now calling themselves “Dutertistas,” supporters of the Duterte for President campaign who have joined the caravan arrived in Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental province on Saturday. Vehicles which began the journey in Manila on Aug. 13 met up with those from certain parts of the Visayas before moving to Mindanao.

Earlier, former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., chair emeritus of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), urged Duterte to already make public his intention, saying many people wanted to support him in the 2016 presidential race. He said the party would solidly support him, but the mayor is still coy about his plans.

Former South Cotabato Gov. Mike Sueño, PDP-Laban national chair, said party stalwarts joined the caravan despite Duterte’s mixed signals, believing that he was indeed running.

“He says he has no plans to run for presidency in 2016 but would also tell people what his administration would be like,” Sueño said.

Pimentel said PDP-Laban needed to forge alliances with other political groups sharing its platform, including the Nacionalista Party (NP), to win the presidency.

“As a small party, PDP-Laban … cannot win the presidency all by itself,” Pimentel said here last week.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., one of the NP stalwarts, confirmed that PDP-Laban had been talking with party leaders “formally and informally” for a possible alliance, but he did not reveal details.

Marcos, however, said it was possible that the NP and the PDP-Laban could support a common presidential candidate in 2016.

The party is also not closing its doors to possible alliances with others, he told reporters during a visit here on Thursday. “(PDP-Laban) is just one of the many that we have talked to,” he said.

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In General Santos City, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao said he could not help but praise Duterte for what he has done in Davao City. “What I admire most in him is his strong political will. It’s rare to find a leader like him,” Pacquiao said.

Unlike other politicians, Duterte was never involved in any controversy involving government funds, he said.

“I admire him for his honesty and integrity as public servant aside from his strong leadership,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a model when it comes to public service.”

Duterte had earlier encouraged Pacquiao to seek a higher post in 2016. “Mindanao needs someone like you in the Senate,” he told Pacquiao when they met in one of the hotels in Davao City early this week.

“I was touched by his kindness and words of encouragement. He promised to campaign for me all over Mindanao if ever I decide to run for senator,” Pacquiao said. But he said he was still undecided on what to run for in 2016.

“I’m still thinking about it because once I am elected as senator I have to give up everything, including boxing, and focus on my job as lawmaker,” he said.

Elmer Quillo, chair of the PDP-Laban in Northern Mindanao, said caravan participants from Cotabato province and other parts of Mindanao would wait for the main group in Bukidnon province before proceeding to Davao City.

It will make regular stops along the way to distribute such items as stickers, baller IDs and T-shirts, Quillo said. Allan Nawal, Germelina Lacorte and Aquilez Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

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