Filipinos in Singapore eager to meet President Duterte

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) greets well-wishers during a meeting with Filipino community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. PHOTO: EPA

Filipinos in Singapore are looking forward to meeting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who arrives here today.

Some have even made special arrangements to leave work early tomorrow, so they can attend an event in which Mr Duterte will meet members of the Filipino community here.

The session, organised by the Philippine Embassy, will be held at the Max Pavilion at the Singapore Expo at 6pm tomorrow.

"I just want to cheer him on and thank him. I support him 100 per cent," said maid Zeny Lopez Viernes, 45, whose employer has given her leave to attend the event.

"I like the way he wants to wage a war on drugs in the Philippines. It is a problem in our country. I hope he will make the Philippines a great country, just like Singapore," she said.

Other supporters of Mr Duterte told The Straits Times that they are hopeful his leadership style, while controversial, would improve people's lives in the Philippines.

IT programmer Ariel Herrera, 33, also registered for the event. He plans to start work earlier and leave the office earlier tomorrow.

"I would like to see him in person," he said.

"He speaks his mind and he doesn't beat around the bush. Some people may think he is rash, but I would rather have a rash person who lives up to his promises, than a polite person who does not."

Registration for the event is now closed, after the number of sign-ups exceeded the venue's maximum capacity of 6,500 people.

Maid Liliosa Castino, 44, did not register in time, but will still go to the Singapore Expo to try for a glimpse of Mr Duterte in person. Her employers are currently on holiday.

"We have had so many presidents, but the situation in the Philippines has been the same. I think he can make a difference," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline Filipinos in Singapore eager to meet President Duterte. Subscribe