Duterte rally gathers 30,000 in Tagbilaran
Subscribe Now April 05, 2016 at 07:45am
In a statement sent to the media in Davao City, the Duterte camp also lauded Maribojoc, Bohol town Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., Duterte’s campaign manager, for gathering such a huge crowd to listen to the mayor.
“Numbering close to 30,000, the crowd was also the largest Tagbilaran has ever seen in recent memory for an election-related rally. So huge was the crowd that it stretched more than a kilometer, filling the main avenue that was already closed to traffic as early 1 p.m,” the statement said.
In his message, Duterte wasted no time hitting his critics who dismissed his promise to stop corruption in government. He said that the coming May 9 election is a choice between genuine and meaningful change and a regime of wastefulness and neglect.
Absent from the crowd were the local officials of the host city and the provincial governor, the Duterte camp said. Local officials in the area are all Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts. They are also opponents of Evasco, one of the stalwarts of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) until he threw his support behind Duterte.
A former rebel priest, Evasco was a long time chief of staff of Duterte while the latter was still an appointed vice mayor in 1986. He also served in various capacities under the Duterte administration in Davao City until he returned to his hometown in Maribojoc where he ran and won in 2007.
In Davao City, Archbishop Romulo Valles said that Pope Francis had responded to the letter of Duterte, and described the words of the Pontiff as beautiful, full of encouragement, with prayers and good intentions for the Davao City mayor.
The archbishop’s statement was made during a press conference yesterday at the Bishop’s residence.
The archbishop did not specify if Duterte has been forgiven for the negative words he uttered against the Pope last year. He said it is only Duterte who can fully divulge the exact content of the Pope’s letter.
Valles said Duterte wrote the Pope last January 21. The letter was coursed through him. The Pope’s response was dated February 24 and was received in his office last March 12.
Valles only read the cover letter signed by Angelo Becciu, from the Secretariat of the State in Vatican. It acknowledged that the Pope received Duterte’s letter last January.
“He appreciates the sentiment which you expressed. The Holy Father offers the assurance of his prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace,” the cover letter said.
In his recent pronouncements to the media, Duterte also confirmed receiving the letter of the Pope but did not categorically mention the exact contents. He said he will tell the public of the content after election.
Valles said he is happy that the Pope responded to Duterte’s letter despite the fact that the Pontiff is very busy with religious activities.
“Mayor Duterte was very open in his letter as he expressed his sentiments,” the archbishop added.
Meanwhile, a Catholic priest said the claim made by Davao Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte that he had been forgiven by the Pope remains an “empty claim” unless the Vatican confirms it.
“It’s hard to comment on the veracity of such reports,” said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Unless the Vatican confirms the existence of such a letter purportedly expressing forgiveness for Duterte’s cursing, then it’s just an empty claim by the camp of Duterte,” he added.
However, the CBCP official said he does not doubt the capacity of Pope Francis to forgive.
“We cannot, of course, doubt the Pope’s capacity to forgive. He preaches about it and shows it by accommodating and understanding people who practiced a less than ideal Christian life,” said Secillano.
But the CBCP official said the other issue here is the damage that Duterte inflicted on the people who believe and respect the pope.
“The nation deserves not only those with good administrative skills but leaders who will protect and enhance the moral fabric of our country,” Secillano said.
“This may be an old issue but cursing whether done privately or publicly does not befit a person especially if you are seeking the highest post in the land,” he added.
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