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‘I can work with anybody’: Moreno positions as moderate at launch of Palace bid

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
âI can work with anybodyâ: Moreno positions as moderate at launch of Palace bid
Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno formally launches his campaign for the presidency on September 22, 2021.
Isko Moreno Domagoso Official Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno officially launched his campaign for the presidency Wednesday with promises of unification and "healing." 

He addressed a moderately-sized crowd at Baseco Compound in Tondo, Manila, home to one of the nation's most impoverished communities, and fielded questions from media in an hour-and-a-half-long affair, the entirety of which was streamed on social media.

Also in attendance was his running mate Dr. Willie Ong — a doctor and social media personality who embarked on a failed senatorial bid in 2019 but managed to garner over 7.5 million votes. 

"I can work with anybody," Moreno repeated thrice throughout the event, sidestepping questions about his ties to the Duterte administration and whether he plans to run as an opposition candidate. 

"I will form the broadest form of government with the best and brightest at its helm," he vowed instead in a speech delivered partially in Filipino. "[I will not just appoint people] from the City of Manila, one party, one faction, one profession, tribe or age group." 

"I will be a healing president," he added. "While ours will be a government of national reconstruction, it will also be a government of national reconciliation, based on justice and rule of law." 

'Not promises but prototypes' 

The first half of Moreno's speech was spent touting his achievements in Manila, framing the city as the model for his plans nationwide. 

"I do not run [on] promises, I run on prototypes." 

Gesturing behind him towards the BaseCommunity, the city’s first townhouse-style project at the Baseco Compound, he said: "Pagsinabi ko pong pabahay, hindi 'yan drawing, nakatayo na po." 

(When I say housing, I'm not just drawing plans, we have already put it up.)

He also said he would carry over his "open governance policy" from his time in Manila to keep his administration open to "new ideas, opinions, and the people's participation in decision-making and governance." 

Moreno also emphasized the need for "constant innovation," vowing to invite millennials to join his administration. 

"[C]ompetence, not connection, will be the sole guide in making appointments," he said. "To those with skills, no recommendation is necessary. [T]hose without, need not apply." 

The former garbage collector also underscored his humble beginnings, saying: "I am neither [a] son or a daughter of a president." 

"I have pulled myself out of the gutter with no Daddy Warbucks helping me along," Moreno added in a dated reference to "Little Orphan Annie".

"My last name is a Lone Ranger in government." 

Duterte hit for 'unli-quarantines,' fibbing about running

As with other allies who have distanced themselves from the administration ahead of the polls, Moreno criticized the government's pandemic response and President Rodrigo Duterte's leadership style, though he used the incumbent's name sparingly and stuck mostly to veiled references. 

"Other countries applied best practices, conducted field trials of scientific solutions," he said. "We on the other hand have used our people as guinea pigs in the longest and strictest experiment of unli[mited] quarantines." 

"[I]nstead of flattening the curve, we have flattened our economy." 

He also took shots at the president's political style, saying: "I want to be clear as early as now because the person who lies about declaring his candidacy will do nothing but lie when they take office."

Duterte entered the 2016 race for the presidency at the last minute after denying he would run.  

Likely referencing the president's late-night addresses to the nation where he rarely discusses the country's pandemic response and often goes after his political adversaries, Moreno vowed: "I will not spend nights rambling on senseless thoughts that will get you agitated." 

Moreno, however, also credited Duterte for giving him a "chance" to serve in his government.

Asked about how he would handle the International Criminal Court probe into Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs, Moreno vaguely replied that he would observe the rule of law. 

He also said he would sign off on giving ABS-CBN back its franchise if it reaches his table. Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives shuttered the network last year. 

Moreno won't give way to opposition bet

Moreno declined to be one of opposition coalition 1Sambayan's nominees for 2022. 

He also rejected proposals to give way to other candidates later on in the race to consolidate the opposition vote, saying on Wednesday: "Hindi na tayo titigil (We will not stop)."  

The same strategy was raised by declared presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson to de facto opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, who was also not agreeable to the plan. 

The vice president said that if she decides to run, then there will be no backing out.

Moreno said, however, that he would "continue to try" reaching out to other candidates. 

The Manila mayor was elected head of the Aksyon Demokratiko party in August. 

Aside from him and Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao accepted the nomination of his faction of the administration PDP-Laban party to be its standard-bearer for 2022.

Another faction of the same party nominated Duterte to be its vice presidential candidate but is waiting on Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, to accept their nomination for president. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag and Xave Gregorio 

2022 ELECTIONS ISKO MORENO
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