WILL President Rodrigo Duterte join the Dinagyang Festival celebrations, just like what he did to the MassKara festival of Bacolod City in the past two years?
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III hopes so.
In a press conference, Espinosa confirmed on Nov 6, 2017 that the Office of the President called his office last Nov 3 to ask for details of the Dinagyang activities.
Espinosa said he coursed his verbal invitation to President Duterte to grace the Golden Dinagyang Anniversary celebration through Presidential Adviser for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino during the latter’s visit on Oct 24, 2017.
“We are preparing the invitation letter and we will send it immediately to the Office of the President,” Espinosa said.
“If ever the President will attend Dinagyang, this will be the first time that a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines will be joining. In the last 50 years of Dinagyang Festival, no president ever attended the celebration,” Espinosa said.
But contrary to Espinosa’s claim, Digong will not be the first president to grace Dinagyang. In 2006, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo opened the festival.
Nevertheless, Espinosa is keeping his hopes high and that he already informed city officials to anticipate tighter security to be implemented by the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
“We are already strict in terms of security, but if the President is there, expect security to be 10 times stricter,” Espinosa said.
Duterte has made Iloilo “popular” by calling it many names in relation to his war against illegal drugs, such as “most shabulized”, “bedrock of drugs in Western Visayas”, among others.
The President is also consistent in accusing Espinosa’s predecessor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, an alleged drug protector in many of his anti-drug speech.
While Espinosa doesn’t want to dwell in the President’s issues against illegal drugs, he is hopeful that the President’s positive response to his invitation would mean a change of perception and impression of Iloilo City.
“Meaning to say, sa iya assessement, nga siguro lain na. Basta ang aton problemahan anay, paabuton ta lang siya di for him to see what is happening. Siguro, the fact nga nag-responder na siya sa aton nga imbitasyon, meaning to say, there is a possibility nga maabot siya diri sa aton,” Espinosa added.
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