May 1, 2022 (10:37 PM)

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Art by Sean Anthony Penn Lacorte and Katelyn Mae Uyking

One of the aspirants in becoming the next president of the Philippines was born in the slums of Tondo, Manila. Francisco Moreno Domagoso, popularly known as “Isko Moreno” and “Yorme Isko,” collected and sold discarded food and sold old newspapers and used bottles before entering the world of entertainment.

Taking the route of politics in 1998, 23-year-old Isko Moreno ran for the City Councilor of the 1st District of Manila, won, and served for three terms. 

Moreno then became Vice Mayor of City of Manila (2007-2016), National President of Vice Mayors League of the Philippines (2008-2016), Vice President of Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (2014-2016), Chairman and President of North Luzon Railways Corp. (2017), and Undersecretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (2018).

He became the Manila mayor from 2019 to the present, gaining him almost 24 years of public service.

Moreno initially showed disinterest to run for presidency in 2019, explaining that it was too early and he has yet to prove himself, but he filed his certificate of candidacy for president as Aksyon Demokratiko Party’s standard bearer, with running mate Dr. Willie Ong under Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats Party. 

Contradicting his previous statement, Moreno emphasized that his years of public service are enough for him to be considered a proper candidate for the position. The Mayor even compared his situation to the former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino, saying that the public had previously elected her  in 1986 despite her being a “plain housewife.”

Addressing criticisms of what others call a “rushed” decision to seek the presidential position, Moreno emphasized that half of his life is dedicated to public service and said that what really matters is that people trust him. In November last year, he said he would not be hostile to critics of his administration if he were elected as president. 

“I will try to be reasonable to them. I will listen first to them, if their opposition to something is valid. Then, if it makes sense, then I’ll listen. If not, we go straight ahead again, because you’re the one that the people elected,” Moreno said in an interview with DXDD. 

Achievements as mayor

The incumbent mayor has procured anti-viral drugs such as Tocilizumab, Baricitinib, Remdisivir, and Molnupiravir that are open to all COVID-19 patients. 

Part of Domagoso’s plans to combat COVID infections was the construction of the Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park that caters to the city’s mild and moderate COVID-19 patients.

“We should always be ahead of COVID infections. We were the first to purchase Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. And now this wonder drug Molnupiravir, tayo din ang naunang bumili. I will continue to listen to science,” Moreno said.

His other COVID-19 pandemic responses in the city are mass vaccination drive, free mass swab testing, and hazard pay and sleeping quarters for frontliners.

In 2019, Moreno signed an ordinance that took effect in January 2020 which gives P1,000 monthly stipend to students in “good standing” from the Universidad de Manila and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. 

The Manila mayor has also signed other ordinances which grant a P500 monetary allowance for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, solo parents, and all qualified Grade 12 students in the city.

Moreno, as a mayor, had notable housing achievements such as Tondominium 1 and 2, Binondominium, and San Lazaro and San Sebastian Residences.

Under his term, Manila topped the 2020 Highly Urbanized Cities of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index with an overall score of 65.9782.

Moreno tagged as Duterte Lite or Duterte 2.0

In 2021, Moreno said he would continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs if elected. 

“We’ll go after those syndicates, drug lords, lalong lalo na, mas nagpapanting ang tenga ko, nangangati ang mata ko pag banyaga ang may dala ng droga,” he said.

Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano likened Moreno to the incumbent president, saying fearlessness was what he had seen in Moreno and Duterte.

“Sinuportahan ko ang ating Pangulo, ngunit nakita ko po kay Mayor Isko Moreno ‘yung nakita ko kay Mayor Duterte, ‘yung matapang,” Cayetano said.

The presidential hopeful said he would not resort to extrajudicial killings and uphold human rights and the rule of law.

“Basta ako, tuloy-tuloy lang yung war on drugs. At ito yung war on drugs kung saan hindi natin tino-tolerate yung pagbebenta ng droga. But the thing is we must go to the source,” the Manila mayor said on March 3.

In agriculture, Moreno was nothing more than a “Duterte 2.0,” Laban ng Masa vice presidential candidate Walden Bello said.

During a dialogue with Tarlac farmers last October 2021, Moreno explained his platforms to improve agriculture and food security. A few of his plans are to put up cold-storage facilities in all provinces on National Food Authority land and reduce rice imports by imposing higher quality standards. 

“It is disappointing that, despite promising to be on the side of the poor, Moreno sounds more like a ‘Duterte wannabe,'” Bello said.

He further said that though Moreno’s plans have several positive components, the entire program is fundamentally flawed because it skirts the main causes of farmers’ hardships and the overall stagnation of agriculture in the country.

Bello stressed that the Rice Tariffication Act should be repealed; however, Moreno pledged to revise the rice tariffication law when elected.

Pia Ranada, a reporter who covered President Duterte and Moreno’s campaign, wrote: “They both use their home cities as launching pads for their national political ambitions, showcasing their local accomplishments as a “prototype” of what they can do nationally.”

During the second Comelec presidential debate last Sunday, April 3, Moreno said, “Nagawa sa Manila, kayang gawin sa buong bansa.”

However, he has denied accusations of being a Duterte lite or Duterte 2.0 but would welcome President Duterte’s endorsement.

Three-way Race

Moreno continues to be one of the top three picks for presidency in different surveys.

The Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer placed second with 24.21 percent of the voter preference in the latest Manila Bulletin-Tangere survey on the 2022 elections conducted on April 4-6. 

Moreno was notably the top pick garnering 37.58 percent of the 2,400 adult Filipino respondents if their first choice did not continue their candidacy.

However, he placed third in the recent Pulse Asia survey released on April 6.

If the elections were held from March 17 to 21, 8 percent of the respondents—2,400 adults aged 18 years old and above—would pick Moreno.

Moreno’s camp sees May 2022 as a three-way race between him, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Vice President Leni Robredo.

“It’s actually an unfair characterization for some that it will be a 2-way fight. On the contrary, it will be a 3-way race as evidenced by Mayor Isko being consistently the top second choice,” Ernest Ramel, chairman of Aksyon Demokratiko, said in a text message.

However, before Moreno filed his COC, he vowed to ramp up his campaign outside the National Capital Region to improve his chances of winning in 2022’s national elections.

The Pulse Asia survey that was conducted from September 6 to 11 last year and the recent survey showed Moreno lagging behind other candidates in Visayas and Mindanao.

Moreover, in the recent Ateneo de Davao University In-Campus Blue Vote survey, Moreno placed fourth with 5.5 percent out of the 840 respondents of the University’s voting population—students, faculty members, administrators, Non-Teaching Personnel, and Jesuit Fathers of the Matina, Bangkal, and Jacinto campuses.

‘Be a hero’

On Easter Sunday, Isko Moreno, Panfilo Lacson, and Norberto Gonzales held a joint press conference at Peninsula Hotel, announcing that none would withdraw from the presidential race.

“We are offering ourselves to you. I offer myself to you, kung gusto niyo ng kapanatagan,” Moreno said.

He also added that the very least he could give is peace of mind on top of each one’s problems.

“Kami dito, humaharap para in the remaining three weeks, wala ng entertainin na fake news, misconception, or deviation, ‘yung gusto kang lituhin. Wala pong aatras samin, that is a guarantee,” Moreno emphasized.

He then stated that if Robredo loves the country, she should initiate a “supreme sacrifice.”

“If they are calling for supreme sacrifice, the ‘yellow/pink’ are calling for supreme sacrifice… Edi ang pinaka-supreme sacrifice, if you are not a good player to win, then you pay the supreme sacrifice, you withdraw… Now we are calling, be a hero, withdraw Leni,” he said.

However, Lacson clarified that they do not collectively call for Robredo’s withdrawal as it was only Moreno’s position. 

“Kung mahal natin ang bansa natin, kung mahal natin ang Pilipino, ang kapwa natin, igagalang natin ‘yung resulta. Hindi ‘yung kapag natalo ka, mag-cecreate ka ng gyera, gulo, terrorism, rebolusyon that will not bring us any better with our situation,” Moreno said.

The article was previously published in the Election Issue 2022 of Atenews. Read it here: tinyurl.com/AtenewsElex2022

Erratum: The article’s headline in the tabloid was “Isko Moreno: From national to local spotlight” instead of “Isko Moreno: From local to national spotlight.” We apologize for the error.



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