Duterte meets leftist leaders in Malacañang: What really happened

President Rodrigo Duterte met with leaders of the progressive Left in Malacañang after his inauguration. Here's what really happened.

Today, leaders of Bayan met with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Osmena Room in Malacanang to congratulate him on his inauguration and to submit to him the People's Agenda for Change which was drafted by the National People's Summit. We were fetched by the PSG as the Mendiola rally was still ongoing. There were no costume changes. We were in typical sweaty rally attire when we entered Malacanang and passed by the departing Palace guests who were dressed in their best formal wear.

We were warmly received at the Osmena Room. Our delegation consisted of myself for BAYAN, Elmer Labog for KMU, Sarah Elago for Kabataan, Cristina Palabay of Karapatan, Christian Tuayon of Bayan Negros, Windel Bolinget from Cordillera People's Alliance, Diego Torres from Bayan Southern Tagalog, Eufemia Cullamat, Lumad from CARAGA, Liza Maza of P1NAS and Makabayan, and Antonio Flores of KMP.

We discussed a wide range of issues including contractualization, destructive mining, ancestral lands, land reform, the release of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds, increasing the budget for health services and education. He sympathized with the release of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds since he had seen similar cases in Davao before. He is studying the possibility of distributing 6 million hectares of public land to farmers. He is a firm believer of the principle of land to the tiller. He wants a review of existing laws on ancestral lands.

He asked us if this was our first time inside Malacanang. For most, it was. We told him how we are usually barred from crossing the barricades at Mendiola. He told us that he respects freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. I asked him if this meant that we can hold our SONA rally closer to Batasan. He said it shouldn't be a problem. Pwede raw makalapit.

He wants peace and national unity to be his legacy. He is serious about finding a solution to the armed conflict.

When it was time to present our tokens, he gamely posed for pictures. He was the first to raise his fist, and we followed his lead. I told him that we don't remember any sitting president raising his fist like that. He said it was because he was serious in his pledge of bringing change. We wished him good luck and thanked him for receiving us on his inauguration day. The meeting lasted for 40 minutes.


The last time I set foot in Malacanang was in 2001, right after EDSA 2 and just before EDSA 3. That was 15 years ago.

Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary general

In his campaign sorties during the election period, Duterte declared that he would be the first left-leaning president of the country.

Duterte also said he is a socialist — a person who advocates or practices socialism which is defined as "a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies" — but clarified that he is not a communist.