By Betheena Kae Unite
A text message announcing that anyone who will join the pro-Duterte rally in Batasan, Quezon City will receive P1,000 upon registration was sent to about 150 persons Monday. However, organizers said it was a hoax.
The text brigade was sent at 9:27 a.m. It read as “Mga kasama, bawat isang sasama sa rally ay makakatanggap ng isang libong piso, lumapit lang sa ating organizer para kumuha at pumirma (Colleagues, everyone who will join the rally will receive P1,000. Just approach the organizer and sign).”
The text message, apparently, also reached Anthony Saquing, political officer of Luzon Watch, a non-government institution who organized the “Biyaya ng Pagbabago” event during the 3rd State of the Nation Address of President Duterte.
Saquing told the Manila Bulletin that no money was being distributed in exchange of anyone’s participation in the rally.
He said instead of money, white headbands were given to the attendees.
Saquing narrated that he had encountered about 150 “walk-in” participants who claimed of receiving the text message.
“Na-encounter ko yan kasi ako nag-assign na magbigay ng white headbands sa mga supporters.
Bago ko bigyan tinatanong ko muna kung anong ‘grupo kayo.’ Na-shock ako kung bakit ang daming lumapit na ‘walk in.’ (I encountered it because I was assigned to distribute the white headbands. Before I give them the headbands I ask which group they belong. I was shock because there were a lot of walk-ins),” Saquing said.
Saquing said they do not belong to any group and are residents of either Batasan Hills or San Mateo, Rizal.
“Sila nakatanggap at tinatanong nila ako, ‘Sir saan po kami puwedeng magpapirma para makatanggap ng Biyaya ng Pagbabago?’ (They received the message and asked me where should they sign to receive grace of change),” Saquing said.
“Akala sa amin nanggaling kaya nagpuntahan sila. As in dala pa mga anak, mga bata, nakapambahay lang biglang sugod sila dito. Humihingi sila ng white headband at nagtatanong kung puwedeng pumirma (They thought the text message came from us. They were even with their kids, wearing home clothes, they suddenly rushed here.They were asking for headbands and asking if they can sign),” Saquing added.
Although disappointed after learning that tgere was no money being distributed, the “walk-ins”, according to Saquing stayed and attended the program.
“Totally disappointed sila nang malaman nila kasi nabasa nila na biyaya ng pagbabago. Akala nila by biyaya means money (They were totally disappointed upon learning. They though that ‘biyaya’ means money),” Saquing said.
The officer clarified that there was no effort to “hakot” or gather people just to show a bigger crowd supporting the President during his SONA.
According to Saquing, the text message aims to distract their program which had gone through a month of preparation.
“To distract our program, to distract the President’s credibility. That’s the only thing (reason),” he said.
“Ang pagpunta po ng mga supporters ng pangulo natin ay hindi tungkol sa pera, hindi po sa libreng pagkain, libreng lahat – ito po ay sa puso. (It is neither money nor free food, or anything that motivated the people to attend and support the president but it comes the heart),” he added.
“Wala po silang natanggap. Nandiyan sila nakinig ngayon binigyan ko na lang sila ng white headband (They did not receive anything. They (the 150 walk-ins) are there now, listening. I just gave them white headbands),” he continued.
As of 2 p.m., the organizers claimed that the crowd in the pro-admin rally has reached 10,000 mark. It is 15,000 participants lower than their target.
A meeting to discuss the text brigade will follow after today’s event, Saquing said.
The organizers, Saquing furthered, do not want to point a finger to anybody who might be behind the text message.