DILG clarifies LGUs not required to attend pro-Duterte rally

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — People were not coerced to attend pro-Duterte rallies held on Saturday, February 25, 2017, the same day the country marked the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary John Castriciones made the clarification as he confirmed a memo issued to local government officials to mobilize their constituents for the event.

He said those who came are true supporters of President Duterte who wanted to express their support to the administration amid criticisms from various groups.

"We are not compelling anyone, the department is not compelling anyone to come over here. But it happened that these advocacies that we have against drugs, corruption, criminality, and poverty is the same advocacy of all local chief executives," Castriciones told reporters at the sidelines of one of the rallies.

Thousands gathered in various pro-administration rallies across the country, including one at the Quirono Grandstand in Manila, and in Davao City.

Some organizers said the rallies are meant to counter criticisms against the president during the People Power anniversary celebrations at EDSA.

Castriciones meantime said the rallies are supposed to unite Filipinos behind advocacies against drugs, criminality, corruption, and poverty.

"This is not colored by any political affiliations. But rather it is an advocacy that needs to be supported by even an ordinary citizen," Castriciones said.

The DILG undersecretary also said the government didn't spend for the pro-Duterte rallies.

Though he admitted that LGU vehicles were used to bring supporters to the venues.

"If you have to bring some people here, what do you do? For example, they come from Batangas, they have to walk all the way from Batangas?"

He added this is no big deal and that there is no need to be so scrupulous about these things.