Ex-president Duterte, who once called God 'stupid', organizes another prayer rally

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Ex-president Duterte, who once called God 'stupid', organizes another prayer rally
Former President Rodrigo Duterte during the funeral mass of Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla held at San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City on Jan. 15, 2024.
Facebook / Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines — Aside from opposition forces gathering at EDSA to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, a political group from another spectrum is set to conduct a prayer rally on the same day.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to lead a prayer rally against the People’s Initiative (PI) campaign for amending specific provisions of the 1987 Constitution on Sunday at the Kasadya SRP Grounds in Cebu.

Mark Abenir, a social development expert at the Ateneo de Manila University, explained that prayer rallies represent a form of political mobilization leveraging religion for legitimacy, identity and motivation. These events utilize prayer as a means to inspire political action.

He also said that political leaders who are involved in these rallies often gain “moral standing” and “charisma” which make them look like they are aligned with the “divine will.”

“Ginagamit ni dating Presidente Duterte at ng kanyang mga kaalyado at galamay ang prayer rally upang palakasin ang kanilang political base at hamunin ang ‘legitimacy’ ng kasalukuyang administrasyon ni President Bongbong Marcos Jr.,” Abenir said in an online message with Philstar.com.

(Former President Duterte and his allies and cohorts are utilizing the prayer rally to bolster their political base and challenge the 'legitimacy' of the current administration of President Bongbong Marcos Jr.)

“Prayer rallies serve as platforms for expressing either support for or opposition to the current Marcos administration and its proposed changes to the 1987 Constitution, and of course, the softening stance to the International Criminal Court issue,” he added.

According to the event’s organizers, the prayer rally is aimed to urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to be “transparent” about the PI campaign.

Duterte, who once called God "stupid," is hosting his second prayer rally. The rally centers on the People's Initiative (PI) for Charter change and coincides with the 38th anniversary of the ousting of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

It could also be recalled that Duterte previously criticized the church, going so far as to curse Pope Francis, a move that garnered criticism from both the clergy and the religious community.

The first prayer rally occurred on January 28, which was also a campaign against the PI in Davao City. It coincided with the Marcos-led Bagong Pilipinas Kickoff Rally.

During the Davao gathering, the former president called Marcos a drug addict as he was allegedly included in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s drug watchlist which the agency denied.

RELATED: Marcos and Duterte clan alliance ruptures

Duterte led the war on drugs, a controversial initiative that has drawn the attention of the International Criminal Court. He faces potential prosecution for the numerous deaths reported by both local and international human rights groups.

The former president was also accused of allegedly leaving bags of assorted firearms on the property of Apollo Quiboloy in Davao, which Vice President Sara Duterte also denied.


Quiboloy, a close ally of Duterte, is tagged as one of the "most wanted" by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation over purported human trafficking charges. Currently, he has been issued subpoenas by both the Senate and the House of Representatives for failing to appear in investigations related to these alleged crimes.

Despite the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution not being declared as a holiday, opposition and progressive groups have expressed their intention to march to EDSA in protest. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Education, led by Marcos’ running mate Sara Duterte, issued a memorandum on February 21, which encouraged “commemorative activities” in honor of the uprising during the EDSA Revolution.


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