Pro and Anti Duterte Rallies Mark Celebration of Nationalist Hero in the Philippines

November 30 is “Bonifacio Day” in the Philippines and is a holiday that celebrates the birthdate of its most prominent nationalist hero. Andres Bonifacio was a leader of the Philippine Revolution versus Spanish colonial rule in 1896. He led the “Katipunan” movement which sought independence from Spain and is often regarded as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution”.

Supporters and detractors of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte used the occasion of Bonifacio’s 154th birthday to draw attention to their respective advocacies.

A group of Duterte supporters called Network Revolution has been circulating advisories on when they plan to stage rallies. These are expected to take place in cities and provinces where Duterte won the majority vote during the 2016 Presidential election.

The objective of Network Revolution is to draw nationwide support for Duterte’s plan to install a revolutionary government as a way to counter destabilization attempts from communist groups and those from the Liberal Party formerly chaired by the previous Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino.

Detractors and opposition leaders have expressed doubts over the real motive for the President’s call for a revolutionary government.

Duterte has been known to have strong ties with prominent leaders of the Philippines’ communist movement such as Jose Ma. Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who was exiled to the Netherlands and Nur Misuari, chairman of the communist group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Duterte has also shifted the country’s foreign and economic policies away from the United States and toward China. At one point, he requested members of his political party to learn communist ideology directly from China.

Opposition stalwart and Magdalo Party list member, Congressman Gary Alejano, believes the crowd that showed up were enticed with cash, food and other gifts by Duterte’s political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino or PDP-Laban:

“Despite what appears to be an organized and sponsored mobilization, which was provided uniforms, transportation and even food carts with PDP signages – a starkly different picture to that of an organic mobilization.”

Alejano pointed out that the rally participants appeared confused and did not know what they were rallying for:

“Supporters of federalism were suddenly converted into supporters of revolutionary government as if these two concepts are interchangeable which in fact, they are not.”

Alejano also shares his opinion that the declaration of an all-out war versus the communists is just smoke and mirrors. He believes Duterte is using rhetoric to justify his call for a revolutionary government:

“It is puzzling that while President Duterte is lambasting the CPP-NPA in public, back door negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF, another communist group) continues.”

Anti-Duterte groups rallied in historic Manila protesting his threats to declare a revolutionary government. Many believe the plan to abolish the constitution is another way to further his “War on Drugs” which to date has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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