SAN FRANCISCO — A week after a prayer rally was held in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, groups supporting President Rodrigo Duterte held a similar religious-themed rally in front of the Philippine Consulate here, capped by a Mass in the consulate to honor the victims of the recent Davao City bombings and their families.
More than 50 prayer rally participants, including those from Migrante Northern California, chanted slogans for “genuine change,” sang and honored the innocent victims of the terroristic Davao blast..
Coalition of pro-Duterte groups spokesperson Atty. Adnan Alonto that the casualties “were victims of terrorism and the political purpose is to discredit the president and the reform agenda that he is pursuing.”
For national unity
Alonto stressed that they are praying for national unity because “Filipinos really need to be on the same page” regardless of political affiliation for the progress and development of the country.
“What we need now is unity for there are many forces that want to destroy the gains we had in the most recent elections. It is time for us to stand up and be counted. Let us stop being fence-sitters because the time to be such is over. It is time to stand for ourselves,” Alonto emphasized.
Alonto declared that Filipinos must stand on their own and shout to the whole world that they are fully independent and that no one, no country, big or small, should dictate on the Philippines’ leaders.
“I am glad that President Duterte has signified in no uncertain terms that the Philippines from now on will pursue an independent foreign policy. It is important that even where we are now has given us so many blessings that we are very thankful for after having democratic freedom and space in this country, (but) we can do that as well in our (own) country,” Alonto said.
Determining own destiny
“What may work here in the U.S. may not work in the Philippines. So let us determine our own destiny just like what our own President is doing now, determining our own destiny,” Alonto underscored.
He added that the bombing was an attempt to damage the image of Davao City as a safe city. “Davao City itself is safe of common crimes but terrorism is something you cannot prevent. Not even the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, can prevent terrorism even in their shores.”
Among those who prominently figured in the rally was the son of the late former Philippine Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel, Lorenzo “Larry” Laurel who claimed to represent the whole Laurel clan of Batangas.
“We are behind President Duterte all the way as we were during the presidential campaign. And now that he is the president, we should move on because his hopes and dreams are the same as that of Papa Doy. He was going to implement federalism, good government, war on drugs to bring up the country to prosperity and not for favoritism of a certain group but for the national interest where the Laurel heart has always been. Whatever benefits the people is what where we are,” Laurel told INQUIRER.net.
Laurel family support
Laurel also said that his family is also for reconciliation and good government, but he criticized the “yellow group” (referring to the Aquinos and the Liberal Party) that had its time in power but were not able to deliver what his Papa Doy believed in.
“Now that Duterte has taken over, we can pursue the dreams which are the same dreams that we fought for in EDSA revolution. We also have to get new leaders to deliver. They have to perform for the country. The military will be more empowered to defend the people, should have more respect from the people, and we should support them. We are all here for a change and let that change happen now that it is within the grasp of the people.”
Digong Duterte Supporters (DDS) NorCal chapter head Kelly Dayag echoed the appeal for unity in support of Duterte for a progressive Philippines.
“Please listen to us and not to the sensational news in mainstream media. Talk to the Filipinos who know better than anybody else. Let us continue being steadfast vigilant for the president on his goal for a better Philippines,” Dayag urged.
Speaking for Migrante of Northern California, Bernadette Herrera issued a statement saying that Migrante was in the rally to signify its solidarity with fellow Filipinos in America for a genuine, meaningful and continuing change in the Philippines.
“Genuine change can only be measured if seen and felt through the everyday life of ordinary Filipinos – of farmers, fishing, farm workers in plantations and agrifarms, factory workers— who are all contractually employed getting low salaries that have no job security, millions of young college graduates with no meaningful job to look forward to aside from being call center agents, crew members in fast food chains, and being overseas Filipino workers themselves,” Migrante’s statement read.
It added, however, that Migrante would also seriously criticize, expose and fight anything and anyone who will hinder progress in the lives of Filipinos.
After the Mass in the consulate, Philippine Consul-General to San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr. also sympathized with the 15 victims who perished in the Davao bombing, saying that it is important to pay attention to the lives that were lost and remember that they were casualties of a “senseless terroristic act.”
“If we are able to sympathize, empathize with other countries like France and Belgium for the events where a lot of people died, why can’t we have the same remembrance for our own people, to put the message across to the entire country terrorism has no place in a civil society,” Bensurto added.