By Manny Piñol

DAVAO CITY MAYOR RODY DUTERTE withstood a last minute desperate attack by the administration party and the mainstream media and showed his mass support when an estimated 1.3-million people gathered for his final rally at the Rizal Park (Luneta) Saturday night.

A final independent survey conducted by a foreign political monitoring group showed that the fiery political leader from the South has soared higher posting 45.6% stretching his lead by 26.3% over second placer Grace Poe Llamanzares who only got 19.3%.

Vice President Jejomar Binay scored 13.5% while administration candidate Manuel Roxas III plummeted to 12.7% and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was at 3.8%.

Political observers believe that Roxas’ dramatic drop from 2nd place tied with Poe to 4th in the final survey could be a result of his public appeal to Poe to withdraw and join forces with him to defeat Duterte.

“Hindi pa nga pumutok ang kanyon, surrender na,” a retired general I talked with at the Manila Hotel yesterday commented.

(The cannons have not exploded yet but already he (Roxas) has already surrendered.)

Roxas’ appeal for a unity team with Poe and Binay was considered a virtual acceptance of defeat in the face of the unstoppable rise of Duterte whose numbers continued to improve even in the face of the vicious attacks launched by Senator Antonio Trillanes.

Duterte showed his strength when an estimated 1.3-million supporters showed up at the Rizal Park (Luneta) last night for his Miting de Avance, the traditional final rally which caps two months of campaigning.

As in his previous engagements, Duterte was consistent with his message assuring Filipinos that there would be peace and security in the country and that food will be “available and affordable” for the Filipino people.

Duterte said his governance will revolve around the interest and welfare of the Filipino people.

He also promised Filipinos that he will be tough on drugs and criminality and that corruption would stop under his Presidency.

“I will send a text message to all officials in government containing four letters S-T-O-P,” he said adding that those who will not stop stealing people’s money will be made to answer for the crime they commit.

Duterte also warned policemen involved in criminality and drugs to reform or “I will kill you.”

In his two-hour final speech peppered with his usual green and funny jokes highlighted by his imitation of Binay’s mannerisms and language during the last Presidential debate, Duterte promised the Filipino people that they will own the country again.

“This country is controlled by only about 40 rich families. These are the families who control the lives of over 100 million Filipinos,” Duterte said.

Duterte promised that under his Presidency, he will level the playing field saying that the ordinary Filipinos will have equal opportunities as the rich and that upright rich businessmen will be protected from harassment of corrupt government officials.

At one time during his speech, he touched the Philippine flag beside him and said that he will unite the country under one flag.

“We will be one nation under one flag,” he said as he promised that he will talk to the different rebel groups in the country – the New People’s Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front – to end decades of conflict in the country.

“We have to talk. We cannot continue killing each other,” he said.

Duterte earlier said that on the first day of his Presidency, he will immediately declare a ceasefire with the Communist rebels and restart peace negotiations.

Duterte returned to Davao City late last night for a final rally in the city which he transformed from a Killing Fields of Communist insurgents in the early 1980s to become one of the World’s Safest Cities.

He is expected to cast his vote in Davao City tomorrow.

Source: Manny Piñol