FACT CHECK: Duterte camp flip-flops on Tacloban rally cancelation

Former president Rodrigo Duterte accused the Marcos administration of “preventing” the May 25 prayer rally in Tacloban City from taking place, criticizing its “policy of stifling dissent.”

Rodrigo Duterte 2024-05-25 Flip-flop

The TAPS Coalition, organizer of the Tacloban leg of the Maisug rally, said on its Facebook page on May 24 that mobility problems arose due to Typhoon Aghon, prompting them to cancel the gathering.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte has accused the Marcos administration of “prevent[ing]” the May 25 Hakbang ng Maisug prayer rally from taking place in Tacloban City as he criticized its “policy of stifling peaceful dissent.” This was contrary to the organizers’ statement that the rally was canceled because of the bad weather due to Typhoon Aghon.


In an open letter dated May 25, Duterte said:

“As part of the Marcos administration’s policy of stifling peaceful dissent, they are doing everything to prevent this rally from happening.”

Source: Atty. Vic Rodriguez’s Facebook page, LIHAM MULA SA PUNONG MAISUG 🇵🇭 (archived), May 25, 2024

Copies of the letter circulated online on the same day the Maisug rally was scheduled at the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez (RTR) Plaza in Tacloban City, the bailiwick of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s mother, former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ former executive secretary who has turned critical of the administration and now allied with Duterte, shared a copy of the letter on his Facebook page. Duterte spokesperson Lorraine Badoy confirmed the authenticity of the letter in an interview with The Manila Times.

rodrigo duterte


The TAPS Coalition, organizer of the Tacloban leg of the Maisug rally, said on its Facebook page on May 24 that mobility problems arose due to Typhoon Aghon, prompting them to cancel the gathering. TAPS stands for Transparency, Accountability, Peace and Security. Its Facebook post reads:

Dahil sa sama ng panahon dulot ng (Tropical Depression) bagyong Aghon na umaapekto sa maraming lugar (signal #1 kasama ang Tacloban City) walang mga sasakyang pandagat at ilang sasakyang panghimpapawid ang pinapahintulutang bumiyahe. Dahil dito ‘di makakarating ang ating mga panauhing pandangal. Dagdag pa, maapektuhan din ang partisipasyon ng mga mamamayan sa planong Prayer for Peace Rally sa Tacloban city. Kaugnay nito, napipilitan po tayong kanselahin ang ating pagkilos bukas.

(Because of the bad weather due to Tropical Depression Aghon affecting many areas – Signal #1, including Tacloban City – no sea or air travel has been permitted. Because of this, our guests of honor will not be able to attend. In addition, this will also affect the participation of citizens in the planned Prayer for Peace Rally in Tacloban City. In this regard, we are forced to cancel the event tomorrow.)

Source: TAPS Coalition (official), Official Advisory, May 24, 2025

In a radio interview on May 28, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said his constituents were observing the Feast of the Sto. Niño and that they frown at blasphemous and “bastos” protests such as those in Maisug rallies.

Romualdez said the Duterte camp should just focus on other issues as their protests would not solve pressing problems. The mayor is a cousin of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez who is embroiled in a rift with Duterte’s daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte. The Romualdez paternal cousins are maternal cousins of the president.

Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre, a staunch ally of Romualdez in the House of Representatives, has refuted Duterte’s criticisms of the Marcos administration. He said the rally organizers did not secure a permit and merely requested permission to use the RTR Plaza. He also noted that on the same date the rally was scheduled, another group had reserved the venue as early as May 10 for a roadshow that required the deployment of heavy equipment there.

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(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)