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MANILA, Philippines – Aspiring presidential candidate and mayor of Manila Isko Moreno bolstered his pro-Duterte stance on Monday, December 6, saying he would welcome President Rodrigo Duterte with open arms to his 2022 senator list.

“I will vote for him, personally. I will approve it, I hope, kung papayag siya (if he agrees), I will be honored, ”he said in an ambush interview in Lapu-Lapu City.

Nakuha ko nga siyang iboto, e ‘di ko pa ba siya makuhang I adopt (If I can vote for him, why don’t I adopt him), ”he added, with Lapu-Lapu Mayor Junard“ Ahong ”Chan standing by his side. Chan is a member of Duterte’s national party, PDP-Laban.

Moreno then praised Duterte, saying the chief executive appeared “capable” of doing the work of the Senate and highlighting national government initiatives such as the Malolos-Clark railway project and National Immunization Days which have benefited the Manilenes and Filipinos in general.

In his one stint as a lawmaker, Duterte has proven lackluster and has been noted for his absenteeism. As representative of the 1st District of Davao City from 1998 to 2001, Duterte was present in only 58% of House sessions with roll call and tabled only 64 measures, far less than the usual 100 or more of the other members of Congress.

Duterte himself described his time as a congressman as “boring”. He even said he often went to the movies right after attending the Congressional Flag Ceremony.

Duterte as Aksyon guest candidate?

It’s no surprise that the Manila leader is making pro-Duterte remarks in Cebu. The province overwhelmingly voted Duterte for president in the 2016 election, giving him 1.2 million votes.

Moreno mentioned his support for Duterte after being asked about his small list of senators, which still only has three aspirants – civic leader Marawi Samira Gutoc, education entrepreneur Carl Balita and former Quezon City official and public figure. from Jopet Sison television.

He first said he was happy with his list of three, but was sure he would vote for four. A reporter asked him who the fourth candidate for the Senate was, which led Moreno to say it was Duterte.

But the mayor of Manila said there had not yet been formal discussions with the president or his camp to join his list of senators.

“I would like him to be on the Senate list as a guest candidate, simply because he no longer has a presidential candidate. Senator Bong Go has stepped down, so it is in line with our belief. But for now, let’s not jump on the arms, I don’t want to get ahead of the president, ”Moreno said in Filipino.

The 47-year-old presidential candidate has said he would have no problem adopting Duterte until the president is a guest candidate for other presidential contenders.

“We do not believe [in the] concept of ‘guest candidate’ in which a guest candidate would say, “I’m the guest candidate of President A, President B, President C, President D,” Moreno said.

When asked if there were any misunderstandings between him and the president after their anonymous war of words in August and September, Moreno said he put it all behind him.

“There will be no perfect person, no government and even no perfect solutions to our challenges. But what matters most in the end, things get done. After the arguments, the disagreement, which matters most today, ”said Moreno.

Moreno has consulted with his party, Aksyon Demokratiko, about welcoming Duterte to the party list, party chairman Ernest Ramel told Rappler.

“We stand by the statement of our party chairman and flag bearer,” he said.

“Aksyon is centrist and is not an opposition party and we believe that there are current administrative policies worth pursuing and we also see what needs to be improved or abandoned,” Ramel added.

Isko Strategy

Duterte himself has not spoken publicly about Go’s plan to withdraw from the 2022 presidential race. He has not spoken about the presidential contender he will support if that plan comes to fruition. But in a closed-door meeting with governors on Nov. 24, local politicians overheard him say he would remain “neutral” and only approve his daughter Sara’s run for vice president.

Before Go said he would withdraw his candidacy, Duterte also publicly criticized presidential race favorite Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Political analysts say both developments could benefit Moreno.

Local PDP-Laban executives who were considering backing Go’s candidacy might end up backing Moreno while Duterte supporters uncomfortable with a Marcos in Malacañang might also back the young boss from Manila. To secure those votes, Moreno must now woo Duterte supporters, analysts say. Moreno’s recent remarks are consistent with this strategy.

Meanwhile, PDP-Laban member Mayor Chan admitted alongside Moreno that Go’s impending withdrawal could leave them free to back any presidential gamble. It is now a waiting game.

“We are the President’s candidate so we are waiting for that, naghhihintay lang kami. ‘Yung sinabi nga ni mayor Isko, wala na kaming kandidato na presidente, naghihintay na lang kamiLapu-Lapu Town Chief said. (We’re just waiting. Like Mayor Isko said, we don’t have a presidential candidate anymore so we are waiting.)

Moreno spends three days in the vote-rich Cebu Province, visiting a safari tourism site in Carmen on Sunday, December 5, speaking with volunteers from Lapu-Lapu City and business leaders from Mandaue City on Monday , then passing by a Cebu City market on Tuesday.

As of September 2021, Cebu was the richest province in the country with more than 3.2 million voters. The province also has a high turnout in polls in every election.

It’s a mixed bag for Moreno in the Visayas hub because in the 2016 elections, Cebuanos chose Leni Robredo as vice-president. But they also voted overwhelmingly for President Rodrigo Duterte, who won 1.2 million votes in this province against 600,000 votes for former Home Secretary Mar Roxas.

Over the past two weeks, Moreno has said he will welcome Duterte’s approval of his presidential candidacy and embrace his controversial “war on drugs”. –