A large crowd of adoring Filipinos gathered Friday in Singapore to meet Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte in big show of support for a leader who earned criticism from rights groups but won support at home over his bloody war on drugs.
The crowd of over 8,000 turned up, much more than the 6,000 tickets organizers prepared for the event.
According to statistics, there are 135,000 Filipinos in Singapore — 70,000 of them working as domestic workers who showed up Friday.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted Duterte to a nasi lemak lunch along with varieties of durian. The Philippine president was also at the Botanic Gardens where he had a orchid – the Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte – named after him.
Since July 1, some 5,000 lives have been lost in Duterte’s war on drugs, his key election pledge.
While international rights groups, along with the United Nations and US President Barack Obama have expressed concern about extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, Duterte continues to receive support among Filipinos as an opinion-poll rating showed the first president from Mindanao receiving a net satisfaction rating of 63 per cent or “very good.”
Back in the big gathering, Filipino supporters held up clenched fists and banners reading: “You are not alone on your war against drugs, Mr. President” and “Duterte – Making Philippines glorious again”.
“He’s fighting for us, for peace, order and safety. He must be tough. If not, crime will still go on,” said Rene Tahun, a Filipino architect based in Singapore.
The event would have gathered a much larger crowd if it was held on a Sunday, where most of Filipino domestic helpers take their day off. One of them, Lilian Taguinod, 34, was disappointed she could not go to see her president.
“I love Duterte,” said Taguinod, holding her employer’s nine-month-old daughter. “I want to see him, but I can’t go because I cannot take the day off.”
Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/JemSanchezPhotography/