Duterte: ‘No’ means ‘maybe’
It was not really a firm “no” but a plea for more time.
“I am asking for more time. But I promise you, I will not abandon you,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said in a text message read by retired Gen. Hermogenes Esperon before about 6,000 supporters gathered at the Quirino Grandstand on Saturday to convince him to run.
Esperon said Duterte, who was in Zamboanga working, would be reconsidering an earlier announcement he made that he had no interest in running for President.
What he wanted was to be given more time to decide about a presidential bid, Esperon told the crowd of supporters from various groups all over the country.
Pointing to the rainbow as a sign of hope, Duterte’s supporters cheered and clapped their hands, seeing it as a sign that Duterte would respond to their call.
Duterte has been consistent in saying that he will not run for President.
He told a press conference on Sept. 7 that he would retire from public life in 2016.
“I believe it’s no longer my time. I will retire after my term,” he said.
In the June Social Weather Stations voter preference survey, Duterte ranked fourth, just a percentage point behind Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas.
Also seen at the event were lawyer Raul Lambino, former spokesperson of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; former chair of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption Dante Jimenez and singer Victor Wood who led the public in chanting “Run, Duterte, Run!”
According to tourism police officer Elmer Roseo, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy was also there, bringing with him 1,500 members of his sect to the rally.
A million-signature campaign was also launched yesterday to show support for Duterte.
“Duterte is good. Davao City is the fifth safest city now because of him,” said Esperon, the Davao mayor’s friend for almost 26 years.
“We need a major surgeon who can do a major surgery in terms of the country’s state of crime and poverty … and that’s Duterte,” Jimenez said.
“Ninety percent of our barangays are infested with drug lords,” he said.
“We need a stronger penalty, death penalty for violators … only Duterte can enforce that,” Jimenez said.
“Grace Poe is OK but needs more ripening,” said the anticrime crusader.
Alysa Alip, 16, was one of about 30 Muslim students from Taguig Alidaya who participated in the rally. “Our teachers told us that Duterte really care and understand the plight of Muslims,” she said.
Ram Samar, head of the Duterte for President movement in Bicol, said Duterte was the only government official he knew who had “no mark of corruption.”
“I can remember him daring the public that he will resign if he robbed the government of even as small as a peso. That’s how credible Duterte is,” Samar said.
Lambino praised Duterte for his discipline and style of leadership and for showing what real people empowerment is.
“Duterte is our only hope for a changed government. Our old Presidents have not changed the system. It was only Duterte who did and the only person we know who could,” he said.
Manuel Serra, Jr., secretary general of the PDP in the Davao region, said Duterte need not worry about funding. “He won’t spend a bit in the campaign period. We believe in him and we will support him all the way,” he said.
A clear program
“The fruit of the pudding is in the eating. We have already seen how Duterte works,” said lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre III, head of the Brotherhood for Duterte, a multisectoral group of about 2 million members nationwide that support Duterte for President.
“We have seen how he has transformed Davao from a killing field into one of the most peaceful cities in the world,” he said.
Aguirre, who likes Duterte for his clear program against crime and poverty, said he could not choose from the three politicians who earlier declared their presidential bids.
“Duterte has a clear program for crime prevention and reduction and he proposes federalism as a better form of government, just like in Indonesia,” he said.
Although Duterte earlier declared he had no interest in running for politics, citing his family and lack of funds as reasons, Aguirre said he had a “moral obligation” to the public.
“He cannot refuse the call of the people” he said, adding that he was confident that Duterte would soon announce that he will run for President.
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