WASHINGTON, DC — Filipino American community leaders and supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte held a prayer rally in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. last Sunday, Sept. 11 to declare their support for the president’s programs and the all-out campaign against drugs.
While Freddie Aguilar’s campaign song for Duterte played in the background, the rallyists calling themselves U.S. Pinoys for Real Change in the Philippines (USPRCP) wore white tops, carried placards and marched in front of the Embassy, singing and chanting that they wanted change in the Philippines.
The 60 or so participants’ placards carried messages expressing support for war against drugs “to save youth, tomorrow’s leaders,” a strong and healthy US –RP relations, due process and respect for human rights, the construction of more rehabilitation centers nationwide, an end to corruption, the disclosures of all killings in the drug war, the war or terrorism and peace talks and end to internal conflicts in the Philippines. They also condemned the bombing in Davao.
USPRCP Chair Atty. Arnedo S. Valera presented the group’s “Statement of Support for the Philippines’ Drug War and a Call for Justice and Multi-Sector Solutions” to Charge d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto, who in turn promised to transmit the statement to President Duterte.
Chuasoto also promised to relay USPRCP fund drive pledge of P200,000 for the families of slain policemen and policewomen killed in the line of duty in the drug war. Among those who witnessed the presentation were Consul Darell Artates and Chief Superintendent Ray Malenab.
“We express our full trust and confidence in President Rodrigo Duterte’s total commitment to effect real change in the Philippine society,” declared Valera. “Be that as it may, we will be vigilant and vocal against killings that violate human rights and due process.”
Valera also noted that the Philippines was at a turning point and emphasized, “If not now, when? If not President Duterte, who?”
Valera reiterated the participants’ support for President Duterte’s programs to combat corruption, eradicate illegal drugs, fight criminality and terrorism, improve governance and the lives of the people.
“I have been with him (Duterte) since day one of his presidency and saw how sincere and passionate he is in pushing his campaign promises. Barely three months into his presidency he has reduced criminality nationwide by about 50 percent, caused the surrender of some 700,000 drug pushers and users, pushed for the elimination of the Abu Sayaff terrorist group by fielding more troops in Jolo, tried to improve traffic in metro manila and pushed other infra projects to alleviate the hardships of the Filipinos,” enumerated Valera.
“He cannot do this without our support. Let us rally around him because for once we have a leader who truly cares for our country and people,” Valera added.
USPRCP Convenor Co-Chair Elizabeth Babiera Valera read messages from Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Philippine Police Inspector Kimberly Molintas of the National Capital Region, which is a 25,000-strong police force.
USPRCP’s statement described the drug problem as “a Global Scourge in Our Time,” and urged President Duterte “to engage all branches of government and others in the private sector, as well as the international community, in attaining a worthy goal,” adding that it “wishes him success in his unprecedented, bold national leadership to bring hope, peace and a better life for all Filipinos that would last for many generations.”
USPRCP also noted “with profound concern that the drug menace in the Philippines has snared, on a national scale, millions of young Filipinos, who represent the future of the country.”
It also expressed alarm at the news that “the magnitude of the illegal drug trade is deep and wide-ranging, involving international drug cartels and their cohorts among public servants who have sworn to serve and protect the Filipino people.”
USPRCP condemned those responsible for the recent bombing in Davao City and prayed for families of victims and for the PNP and military. Prayers were led by Conrad Martinez, The Lord is My Shepherd Prayer Group, Tony Calaro of St. Michael’s of Archangel parish and Dr. Marilou Jimenez, Joey Tamayo, Filipino Migrants and Ma. Fe Ecleo of Filipino Teachers Support Duterte Movement.
The group says it has 400 members and volunteers across the country. Among its leaders are: Co-Convenor Mike Ocampo of Anchorage, Alaska, president of Boses ng Pinoy sa Amerika; Jun Teves of Carson, California; Dan Jimenez, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate, of Washington, D.C.; Dr. Tablang Jimenez; Conrad Martinez of Silver Spring, Maryland; and Pastor Guillermo Gucilatar, senior pastor of Seventh Day Adventist of Las Vegas, Nevada.