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Isko-Doc Willie Tandem A Threat To Bong-Rody? Palace Mum

Isko-Doc Willie Tandem A Threat To Bong-Rody? Palace Mum
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Dr. Willie Ong during their declaration to seek the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, in next year’s elections at the Baseco Compound in Tondo on Sept. 22, 2021. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

It is within Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s right to seek the presidency, Malacañang said on Thursday, Sept. 23, as next year’s race for the presidency starts to shape up.

Asked whether the tandem of Moreno and his running mate Willie Ong poses a threat to that of Go and Duterte, presidential spokesman Harry Roque replied: “First, I do not know if there is a Go-Duterte tandem. I cannot make any comparison.”

“What I can say is it is really the right of all Filipinos to run during elections. It is their right to vote and to be voted,” Roque said.

The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi nominated Sen. Bong Go as its candidate for president and President Duterte as vice president.

The President has accepted the nomination, a move that critics described as an attempt to remain in power.

Go, a former aide of Duterte, declined the nomination.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Moreno announced that he is aiming for the highest elective post and vowed to become a “healing president.”

Before winning the Manila mayoralty race in 2019, Moreno served under the Duterte administration as social welfare undersecretary.

Last month, Duterte criticized a mayor for supposedly having a “disorganized mind” and for acting like a “callboy.”

Duterte did not identify the mayor but Filipinos believe he was referring to Moreno, a former actor.

During the launch of his bid for president, Moreno took a swipe at Duterte, saying that while he grew up poor, he was never rude.

Rushing to Palace?

Amid questions that he is rushing to be the country’s president, Moreno said he has been in public service for two decades.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, Moreno was asked why he is gunning for the presidency and not senator or vice president first, when he is just on his first term as Manila mayor.

Moreno said he has served in government for 23 years or half his lifetime. He said he is now 46 years old.

Moreno first served as Manila councilor from 1998 to 2007, and vice mayor from 2007 to 2016. He ran but lost in the senatorial race in 2016 and was elected mayor in 2019.

He was appointed by Duterte as social welfare undersecretary and chairman of the North Luzon Railways before he ran for mayor.

“That’s a good point. I respect that opinion, but let me refresh your memories. I’ve been serving the city and government for 23 years of my life. I’m 46 years old. Half of my life is dedicated to public service,” he said.

Moreno likened himself to former president Corazon Aquino, who was catapulted to the presidency after the 1986 people power revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“There are many people who were elected by nature or destiny, in the likes of Tita Cory. She was elected despite being a plain housewife with no experience, because the trust of the people was there,” Moreno said.

He stressed he was able to implement good governance in Manila within his one term as mayor.

Moreno said he wanted to introduce himself outside his stronghold in Metro Manila and Luzon to the provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.

He added his father is from Antique and his mother from Samar. Both are from the provinces before migrating to Manila to seek better opportunities.

“I am proud of my parents who went to live in Manila’s squatter areas for greener pastures. If we make it better in the provinces, no one will go to Manila anymore and become a squatter,” said Moreno, who grew up in the slums of Tondo before he was discovered to become a movie actor.

Aksyon Demokratiko chairperson Ernesto Ramel said in an interview with One News’ “The Chiefs” on Wednesday night that Moreno is gaining a stronghold in Visayas and Mindanao. He did not cite the complete survey ratings.

“This is an internal survey. He went up in Mindanao by a good margin, around 15%, if I’m not mistaken. That’s surprisingly good. He has not announced or done anything yet, but the numbers are there,” Ramel said.

Moreno is president of Aksyon Demokratiko.

According to Ramel, the voting public is also looking for “alternative” candidates, amid reports that Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is still being eyed as a presidential candidate.

The party official said Morenoupheld the rule of law as Manila mayor, noting that drug suspects were presented to the public that they were arrested and not killed for allegedly fighting back.

Moreno will uphold the country’s treaties with the International Criminal Court even if the latter tries the President for crimes against humanity over the war on drugs, Ramel said.

“He stands by the rule of law and of justice, We cannot lead without justice,” Ramel added.

Not much of an oppositionist

Although he was recently at odds with the President, Moreno was not much of an oppositionist for most of the term of the present government, according to 1Sambayan convenor and former human rights chairperson Etta Rosales.

“He is opposition to Duterte insofar as Duterte has been hurting him. So it’s a very personal relationship,” Rosales said in an interview with The Chiefs also on Wednesday night.

“But other than that, he isn’t an oppositionist. He’s never been that much of an oppositionist. That’s my personal opinion,” Rosales said, noting that 1Sambayan has not discussed as to whether they should consider Moreno as part of the opposition or not.

Rosales said the Manila mayor was never vocal in opposing the administration’s policies like on the West Philippine Sea.

“That’s nice that as president he will fight for the fisherfolk. But what about all those armed militia ships that are destroying, actually hurting the waters and destroying the coral reefs?” she asked.

Prior to the announcement, Rosales said 1Sambayan members are split between Moreno and Vice President Leni Robredo as their choice for the unified opposition slate.

But during the interview with The Chiefs, she clarified that the internal survey is just one of the factors that they would consider in choosing their candidates.

She said convenors would also look at their character, track record, capability to mount a national campaign and other external factors.

1Sambayan on Tuesday, Sept. 21, said it would soon announce their candidates for a unified opposition slate in next year’s elections.

The group said its screening process for potential candidates is ongoing, with its internal survey for members expected to end tomorrow. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe