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Isko Vows To Be ‘Healing President’

Isko Vows To Be ‘Healing President’
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Dr. Willie Ong declare their intention to run for president and vice president, respectively, in the 2022 elections during a simple ceremony at the Baseco Compound in Tondo on Sept. 22, 2021. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno formally launched on Wednesday, Sept. 22, his bid to run for the country’s highest post in the elections next year, promising to become a “healing president” and to embrace all political colors.

In his declaration for the presidency at Baseco, Tondo, Moreno said he would form the “broadest form of government” that includes even his opponents.

“The best and brightest, from any city, party, faction, profession, tribe or age group,” Moreno said, describing his proposed coalition. “A leader should not only think outside the box – he must also choose people outside his circle.”

“In our administration, competence – not connection – will be the sole guide in making appointments,” he added, rejecting the “padrino” system of governance and promising to hire millennials in his administration.

The actor turned politician promised an “inclusive” government and “open governance,” vowing to implement as president what he did in Manila as mayor, such as ease of doing business.

The Tondo resident touted his poor past as a scavenger in Manila and asked the country to give a political newcomer like him a chance to be president.

He promised to become a “healing president” by listening to all sides despite political color and by taking criticism to improve government service.

“I will be a healing president (for) national reconstruction and national reconciliation based on justice and rule of law,” Moreno said, noting that his Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan – who will run for mayor next year – and his vice presidential candidate Willie Ong are doctors.

He took a dig at the foul language of President Duterte, adding that he may have grown up poor, but he never had a foul mouth.

“While poverty dehumanizes, it must not take the humanity out of you. Lumaki akong busabos ngunit hindi ako naging bastos,” Moreno said.

During a press conference, Moreno said his presidential bid is a done deal, when asked if he would still consider running in tandem with the possible presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo.

“When we decide, we decide, then we move forward as fast as we can… I don’t want to be like a boyfriend who gives out false hopes,” he said.

He said “rule of law will prevail” when asked if he would cooperate with the probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Duterte and his war on drugs, and if he would support the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

Without calling out Duterte for his role in the thousands of killings during the brutal narcotics crackdown, Moreno said he will let the “natural course of law” proceed and “not lift a finger” to intervene in the ICC proceedings.

“Justice will be served, rule of law observed. We will not protect anyone,” Moreno said in a Rapplerinterview that aired after his launch event.

Moreno said neither will he oppose the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN and that he will sign a same-sex marriage into law “if Congress passes it.”

Asked by Rapplerif he was a “closet Duterte supporter” – having served the administration as social welfare undersecretary and North Luzon Railways chairman before he ran for mayor – Moreno said he can “work with anybody, (whether you are) red or yellow.”

“I hired people who did not vote for me. I put them as heads of department. I hired people of my opponents, that’s what you call leadership,” he said.

Moreno added that he will do away with task forces and “czars” in his pandemic response as president, noting that he will hire services of medical practitioners and prevent repetition of tasks.

He scored the government’s pandemic response, the delays in releasing frontliners’ benefits and experiments with “unli” lockdowns which he described as the “strictest and longest” in the world.

“Other countries applied best practices, conducted field trials of scientific solutions. We, on the other hand, have used our people as guinea pigs in the longest and strictest experiment of unli-quarantines,” Moreno said.

“We have been under quarantine for 557 days already, but instead of flattening the curve, we have flattened our economy,” he added.

He said he experienced discrimination early in life, which was not “a theory read up later in school.”

“There are many limits when you are a scavenger. Education, health, housing, job, doors which are always open to other children who take them for granted are barriers (you) must overcome,” Moreno said.

He said scavengers are not only digging for food, but are also asking for alms for respect.

“People are taking you for granted. They discriminate you. If you are born on the wrong side of the city, at the bottom of society, you cannot escape the profiling for life. What I know is that it is no crime to wear threadbare clothes because of poverty. What is wrong is to praise an Emperor’s clothes when in fact he is wearing none,” Moreno said.

Doc Willie willing to lose if…

Celebrity doctor Willie Ong said he does not mind if he loses as vice president next year as long as his running mate wins as president.

A reluctant Ong declared his vice presidential bid with Moreno and apologized for causing a stir when he was announced as Moreno’s running mate.

He admitted that he had opted to retire from politics after losing in the senatorial race in 2019.

The celebrity doctor who gives out medical advice on social media added that he had rejected Moreno when the latter initially reached out to him for his senatorial lineup.

But he said he changed his mind when he saw the need for the country to have better health services.

“Please vote for the two of us. Don’t give me another partner,” Moreno said.

Moreno’s camp denied that Ong will be replaced by Sen. Grace Poe as vice presidential candidate.

“That’s a done deal. Doc Willie is our vice presidential candidate,” Moreno’s campaign manager Lito Banayo told ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart.”

‘Only Isko can defeat Sara’

Only Mayor Moreno can defeat Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the 2022 presidential race, political strategist and former senator Serge Osmeña said.

Although Duterte-Carpio claimed she will not run for president next year, Osmeña expressed belief that the President, who declared his plans to run for vice president next year, will slide down to give way to his daughter.

“So I think what will happen is that Duterte will slide down and make Sara run for the presidency,” Osmeña said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One Newson Tuesday night, Sept. 21.

He said the filing of certificates of candidacy is set from Oct. 1 to 8, but the important date is Nov. 10, the deadline for the filing of substitution in the Commission on Elections.

Osmeña, who served several terms as a senator, said he doesn’t see a daughter and father tandem in the 2022 elections. “That is a losing tandem. Nobody will vote for a Duterte-Duterte even (in) Mindanao,” he pointed out.

“Right now, I have to support only the one guy who can defeat Sara, one guy,” Osmeña said. “I will not be running anymore, and I will be helping somebody. And I think that somebody will probably be Isko Moreno.”

After ticking off the chances of other presidential candidates, “you are only left with Isko and Sara, so I go for Isko than Sara,” he added. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe