February 3, 2024 (8:24 PM)

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DISSENT. Davaoeños gathered in solidarity to oppose charter change after Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte spoke against the current administration’s alledged controversial vote-buying for the people’s initiative on charter change during the prayer rally held at Rizal Park on January 28.

Following the plans of revising the 1987 Philippine Constitution through an ongoing ‘People’s Initiative,’ Davaoeños and people from neighboring towns assembled to condemn the administration to support the initiative through the Hakbang ng Maisug Prayer Rally.

Former President Rodrigo “Digong” R. Duterte (FPRRD) questioned the initiative, stating that the efforts should be from the ordinary people to the government, not vice versa.

“Ang People’s Initiative na ‘yan, dapat nanggaling yan sa mga LGUs; sa mga taong-bayan. Saan ka makakakita ng People’s Inititative na nanggaling sa itaas, sa mga taong may kapangyarihan? Kaya nga people’s initiative, nanggaling sa mga tao,” FPRRD stated.

Duterte also emphasized the habits of people in power: instead of changing their country, they use it to sack as much money as possible and make their terms longer.

However, while opposing the charter change, Duterte pushed for an ‘independent Mindanao.’

“Kaya mag-usap na lang tayo. Sabi ko nga gusto niyo One Mindanao tayo, iparaan natin sa proseso na legal. There is such a thing as a parliament body that could hear your petition to secede,” Duterte said during the Hakbang ng Maisug Leaders Forum, a press conference held by his supporters at Grand Men Seng Hotel last January 30.  

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, representative of Davao del Norte’s first district, will consult Mindanaoan leaders about the island’s secession from the Republic of the Philippines. Alvarez was the first to push for Mindanao’s separation, according to Duterte. 

Duterte said that nothing beneficial has happened to Mindanao; thus, secession is needed.

Alvarez explained that the secession process would resemble Singapore’s separation from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. Alvarez said this would reap more benefits for Mindanao as they controlled the island and its resources.     

On the other hand, Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte warned President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that a People Power Revolution might happen sooner or later if the current administration persists in what they are currently doing.

“Just a simple message para sa atoang pangulo: from now on, before you go to bed, think of the Romanovs, think of Benito Mussolini and his wife, and think about what happened to you in 1986; maybe you will reconsider the direction you are taking.”

National Secretary-General for the “Inday Para sa Bayan” movement, Dang Imperial Mangalino, shared her thoughts in an interview with Atenews about being startled by the people’s initiative, along with the vote buying, which had happened.

“We did not see a people’s initiative during his [FPRRD] term, but we all know who was behind the ropes. To the masterminds, stop trying, kasi sa huli, mananalo at mananalo ang boses ng sambayanang Pilipino.”

Mangalino added that the people are here also to support the ‘right’ government and emphasized that most rallygoers are for the current vice president to run for presidency during the 2028 elections.

Although the event was meant to be a peace rally, there were performances from different artists, including Willie Revillame, who later announced his intention to run for the 2025 Senatorial Elections.

Meanwhile, Atty. Glenn A. Chong, one of the speakers, drew attention to the role of the Constitution in shielding us from the government itself, and changing it would destabilize our country.

“Naay balak ang gobyerno na usbon ang atong Konstitusyon. Ang atong Konstitusyon mao na ang atong social contract nga dili kita abusaran sa atong gobyerno. Kadaghan sa atong katungod i surrender nato sa gobyerno nga kabaylo sa duha ka butang; ang konsultahon ta kung kinsa ang mangulo kanato, ug ang gobyerno para sa atong kalambuan.”

The movement happened because of the ongoing people’s initiative to sign the petition to change the 1987 constitution to extend the President’s term. By doing so, the people involved in signing were given money as a form of cash assistance to sign the petition. 

The People’s Initiative is one of the methods the current administration uses to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution, opening the economy for more foreign investors and lengthening the term of the administration through a petition of at least twelve percent (12%) of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by three percent (3%) of the registered voters therein.

The rally happened on January 28 at San Pedro Square, Davao City, Philippines.



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