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Isko Wants To Adopt Duterte In Senate Slate

Isko Wants To Adopt Duterte In Senate Slate
Presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (right) and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard ahong Chan show their TikTok dance moves after the flag raising ceremony at the city hall on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. Photo by Joy Torrejos, The Freeman

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno invited President Duterte to join the Aksyon Demokratiko senatorial slate and praised the administration’s vaccination and infrastructure program.

Moreno was on his second day in Cebu for his “listening tour” on Monday, Dec. 6, when he announced his invitation for Duterte to run as guest candidate of the party for which the mayor is standard bearer. Duterte filed his senatorial bid under Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan or PDDS.

“I have three candidates for senators, but I am sure now that I will vote for another one,” Moreno said in an interview in Lapu-Lapu City. “It’s President Duterte.”

“We cannot question his skills. He is a qualified candidate for the Senate. This is my personal choice, but in fairness to him, his projects benefitted Manila,” Moreno said in Filipino, referring to the government’s flagship airport and skyway projects.

Moreno also praised the recent national vaccination drive that resulted in over 10 million Filipinos getting their COVID-19 jabs.

The presidential aspirant earlier shunned the practice of inviting guest candidates because he had wanted his senatorial slate to fully support him and not any other candidate.

But this changed when he endorsed Duterte’s senatorial candidacy.

The mayor seems to be courting the presidential endorsement after Sen. Bong Go announced he was backing out of the presidential derby. Moreno has denied being a secret administration candidate.

Moreno said he is not walking back on an earlier stance about guest candidates just to adopt the President. Moreno had wanted his senatorial candidates to take an oath before Aksyon Demokratiko.

“We don’t believe in the concept of guest candidates. In this case, besides the fact that I would vote for President Duterte, I would tap him as a guest candidate simply because he has no more official candidate for president,” Moreno said.

Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel said the President need not take an oath before the party, unlike the other senatorial candidates Samira Gutoc, Jopet Sison and Carl Balita who had to swear their allegiance.

He added that Moreno “need not be labeled administration or opposition candidate” even if he gets Duterte’s endorsement.

“We stand by the pronouncement of our party president and standard-bearer. Aksyon has taken a centrist and objective stand on many issues and is not an opposition party per se,” Ramel told The Philippine STAR.

Moreno’s campaign manager Lito Banayo denied that Moreno’s latest announcement makes him the administration candidate next year.

“Technically, with the announced withdrawal of Sen. Bong Go from the presidential race, President Duterte has no more presidential candidate. The condition of not adopting guest candidates no longer applies to him,” said Banayo, who served as Duterte’s envoy to Taiwan before joining Moreno’s team.

He denied that Moreno’s camp is in talks with the administration to make him the anointed one.

“There are no talks going on between Sen. Bong Go, much less with the President. It is just Mayor Isko’s way of giving respect to the incumbent president who after all appointed him to government posts after he was jobless, and before he was elected mayor of Manila,” Banayo said.

Duterte had criticized Moreno about the chaotic and long lines in Manila’s vaccination drive, prompting Duterte to make a blind item in his public address calling a mayor with a past as a sexy actor.

Moreno, for his part, lashed out at the government’s costly face shield rule and COVID-19 response. He also hit the President for being foul-mouthed. 

‘A reflection of values’

Presidential aspirants’ decision on who to include in their respective Senate slates reflects their values and aspirations for the country, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

This was Robredo’s response when asked to comment on Mayor Moreno’s statement that he would vote and likely adopt President Duterte into his Senate slate.

“It is his right to choose whoever he wants to be with. But the choices, not just for the slate, but all our choices are always a reflection of our aspirations and the values we believe in,” the Vice President said in a press conference in Baguio City.

Robredo said she is “very proud” of her own Senate slate as they were carefully selected based on what they can contribute to the country.

Robredo pointed out that their choices of senatorial candidates did not only zero in on the personalities’ popularity and winnability.

“The most important factor is what they want to contribute to the next administration,” she said. – With Helen Flores