Pro-Duterte Kilusang Pagbabago flexes muscles against poverty (updated)

Evasco urges mass movement to claim #BiyayaNgPagbabago

The 50,000-strong pro-Duterte crowd gathered at Davao City’s Freedom Park on December 9, 2017 may be half of the original target turnout of 100,000. I personally went around the whole stretch of the park that was closed off to traffic to look at the crowd.

But that’s not what made the launch of Biyaya Ng Pagbabago — President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-poverty program under the supervision of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. — significant.

Members of Kilusang Pagbabago, mostly coming from poor communities all over the archipelago, heeded the call to come to Davao City using their own resources. KP flexed its political muscles and delivered.

Alvarez, Evasco, Biyaya Ng Pagbabago
House Speaker Pantaleon ‘Bebot’ Alvarez listens to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio ‘Jun’ Evasco as the latter briefs him about the Biyaya Ng Pagbabago program and Kilusang Pagbabago.
Biyaya Ng Pagbabago launch 1
The stage was set up across the Bonifacio monument at the junction of Roxas Avenue, C. Bangoy Street, and Magsaysay Venue. At its height, the crowd stretched along Roxas Avenue to the corner of Daang Maharlika Highway.

Consider the following:

  • I expected more than half of the turnout would come from Davao City. However, some 70-80 percent arrived from other parts of Mindanao as well as Luzon and the Visayas.
  • To spread the word about the program, a Kilusang Pagbabago caravan had left Ifugao, Mountain province on December 1. The caravan traveled to Pampanga, Metro Manila, Batangas, Bicol, Samar, Leyte, and reached Cebu on December 6, 2017.
  • Some 2,000 KP members welcomed the caravan with a signing ceremony at the plaza fronting Cebu City Hall.
  • Cebu City Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña posted a video message expressing support for the Biyaya Ng Pagbabago program.
  • The Luzon group left that Wednesday night and arrived in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday (December 7) for the start of the Mindanao leg.
  • From Cagayan de Oro, the group traveled to Marawi City and proceeded to Cotabato where they were welcomed by hundreds of KP supporters inside the compound of the Autonomous Region for Autonomous Mindanao. The delegation arrived  in Davao City on December 8.
  • Another delegation from the Visayas, meanwhile, arrived in Cagayan de Oro on December 8 and traveled to Davao City via Bukidnon.
  • Most Kilusang Pagbabago chapters are active in poor urban and rural communities. Each Kilusang Pagbabago chapter were asked to observe the principle of self-reliance if they decide to send a delegation to Davao City. Aside from expressions of support, no politician spent money to finance the mobilization.

Map Biyaya ng Pagbabago Caravan

Promise of Change

During a press conference on December 8, CabSec Evasco said the first KP members originally helped in unleashing the mass movement that swept then Davao City Mayor Duterte to the presidency because of the promise of change.

The movement continued after the election victory to help realize the change that the Duterte victory ushered.

“Biyaya is Tagalog for gift or gasa in Bisaya,” explained CabSec Evasco. The anti-poverty program are the gifts brought about by change that the mass movement needs to claim.

The cabinet secretary is relying on projects of 12 agencies placed under his jurisdiction by President Duterte’s first executive order upon assuming office in July 2016. These are:

  1. Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)
  2. Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)
  3. National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
  4. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
  5. National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF)
  6. National Food Authority (NFA)
  7. National Youth Commission (NYC)
  8. Office of the President – Presidential Action Center
  9. Philippine Commission on Women (PCW)
  10. Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)
  11. Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP)
  12. Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA)

Participatory Governance

“Kailangang kumilos ang mamamayan sa isang malawak na Kilusang Pagbabago at aktibong makilahok sa pamamahala. Ating ilunsad ang isang pambansang kampanya para kamtin ang mga biyaya,” said Undersecretary Penpen Libres of the Office for Participatory Governance (OPG).

“Biyaya ng Pagbabago” is aligned with the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan ‎2017-2022 to reduce poverty in the country from 21.6% to 14%.

“We are targeting to alleviate poverty by 7%, or lift the lives of about six million people listed under the poverty level, before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022,” Libres said.

Unlike previous anti-poverty programs that were conceptualized and implemented as patronage projects of  traditional politicians, the Biyaya Ng Pagbabago integrated participatory governance and empowerment of people’s organizations.



Though I considered him a traditional politician because of the massive hakot PDP-Laban did in Cebu in mid-November, House Speaker Bebot Alvarez showed his support for this movement for change to end poverty in the country. and push for federalism.

In addition, the House Speaker spelled out targets for the federalism campaign come early 2018:

  • Passing and approval of the new federal constitution via constituent assembly;
  • Ratification of the new constitution simultaneous with the barangay elections in May 2018;
  • Start implementation of the federal set-up starting May 2019.

Alvarez, who is confident of steering the House super-majority in coordination of the Senate, needs a partner outside the halls of Congress. Kilusang Pagbabago is a nationwide mass movement primed to drum up massive support and votes for the administration’s shift to the federal system.

Indeed, Kilusang Pagbabago flexed its muscles on a nationwide scale and delivered.

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