Duterte to skip Sinulog festivity

By Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo, Nestle L. Semilla |January 20,2018 - 11:20 PM

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not be joining the Sinulog festivity today as has been anticipated by some of his supporters in Cebu.

This was confirmed by Jonji Gonzales, chief of staff of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, in a Facebook message to Cebu Daily News.

Gonzales said the President has prior engagement, which made him decline the invitation from the Office of the City Mayor to join the Cebuanos in the Sinulog celebration.

Ask if there was any chance that the President would change his mind and drop by Cebu for a short visit, Gonzales said, “No chance gyud. (There is no chance).”

Despite the prior announcement that President Duterte will not be in Cebu today, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) said security measures were put in place in case the President would change his plan.

“We have not heard any word form Malacañang (about Duterte’s visit in Cebu) but we are ready and prepared in case he comes to Cebu,” said newly-installed PRO-7 director Chief Supt. Robert Guzman Quenery.

Quenery said PRO-7 is on full alert for the celebration of Sinulog, which is considered one of the biggest festivals in the country and has been drawing millions of tourists to Cebu during the ten days it is celebrated, culminating with a mardi gras-like grand finale today.

PRO-7 will deploy at least 5,000 personnel, including from force multipliers such as habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) drivers and Muslim community volunteers, for the Sinulog Grand Parade today.

Noting these security preparations, Quenery was confident the police could manage any change of plans on the side of the President’s itinerary.

“We have been on heightened alert since we started working on the security plans for the festival. In the past days, we have mandated our men to be on full alert because this is a big celebration,” said Quenery.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a visit to Cebu last January 13, had also said that the President would not be around to join the Cebuanos for the Sinulog Grand Parade because of “prior commitments.”

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, the chairman of the Sinulog 2018 executive committee, affirmed Roque had also informed him about the unavailability of the President.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña earlier said the Office of the President had declined the invitation to join the Sinulog celebration.

A similar invitation was also extended to Vice President Leni Robredo but she, too, declined citing prior engagements.

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