Palace: Up to Duterte whether to reveal 'disorganized' mayor

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace: Up to Duterte whether to reveal 'disorganized' mayor
Combination photo of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and President Rodrigo Duterte.
Facebook / Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso and presidential photo / Robinson Niñal

MANILA, Philippines — It would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide whether to identify the mayor who was stripped of the authority to distribute aid to lockdown-affected families for supposedly being "disorganized," Malacañang said Thursday.

During a public address last Monday, Dutetre said the national government would handle the giving of financial aid in a city in Metro Manila because its mayor has a "disorganized mind." The president did not identify the city and the mayor, whom he also criticized for having lewd photos and for acting like a "call boy."

Many are convinced that Duterte was referring to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, a former actor who had done mature roles. Some suspect that Duterte's tirades are related to politics, noting that the 46-year-old mayor is a potential candidate for president next year.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque insisted that he was not in a position to identify the mayor criticized by Duterte.

"I will leave it at what the president said... As I said, I am only a spokesperson. I cannot rise above my source, and the president is my source," Roque said at a press briefing.

Asked if Duterte would eventually name the subject of his criticisms, Roque replied: "That’s up to him."

Roque also brushed aside the accusations of some groups that Duterte had attacked Moreno because the mayor poses a threat to the president's plan to build a political dynasty.

"I haven't heard criticism against Mayor Isko that came from the mouth of the president," he added.

While Duterte did not mention him in his public address, Moreno recently shared on social media photos of an interior department-issued certificate recognizing Manila's "efficient and timely" completion of the distribution of aid to its constituents.

Pressed about reports that Manila has proceeded with its aid distribution despite Duterte's remarks, Roque replied: "Well, I heard the president say that but he did not name the city. So there is an order but he did not make public the city  he was talking about. The DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) have that city."  

Aid distribution

The giving of cash aid to Metro Manila residents affected by lockdown restrictions started last Wednesday. The budget department has released P10.89 billion for the assistance. The capital region was placed on lockdown from Aug. 6 to 20 to address the rising number of COVID-19 infections.

"The first day of the distribution of aid was orderly and there were no major issues," Roque said.

Each low-income individual will receive P1,000 while families may get as much as P4,000. Local governments were given 15 calendar days to finish the distribution but it may be extended upon the request of mayors.

Roque also confirmed that Duterte has approved the giving of P3.4 billion cash assistance for Laguna and Bataan, areas that are also on lockdown.

"The promised aid for Laguna and Bataan has been released," he said.

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