Here's what you need to know about presidential candidate Isko Moreno

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Here's what you need to know about presidential candidate Isko Moreno
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno delivers a speech during the groundbreaking of the 20-story San Sebastian Residences in Quiapo yesterday.
STAR / File
This is part of a series of articles about the top presidential candidates and their policy views. Read the rest in the series:

Ping Lacson
| Bongbong Marcos | Isko Moreno Domagoso | Leni Robredo | Manny Pacquiao


MANILA, Philippines — Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno is gunning for the highest post in the land in an attempt to replicate his achievements as chief of the capital city to the national stage with dynamic and proactive leadership. 

As of the latest pre-election survey by Pulse Asia, Moreno still had the highest second-choice voter preference or among voters whose first choice for the presidency decides to withdraw from the elections, notching 24% of second-choice votes.

When it came to first-choice votes, Moreno was still tied with Sen. Manny Pacquiao for the third place overall with just 8% of the total vote.

Here's what you need to know about potential dark horse candidate Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso. 

Team and profile

Running mate: Dr. Willie Ong, 58, is an internal medicine specialist, cardiologist, author and medical commentator who gained popularity primarily through social media where he offers medical and healthcare-related advice. 

Moreno said he chose Ong as running mate in the 2022 elections for his medical background and expertise. Ong is advocating health system reform, including improved support for health infrastructure.

Campaign manager: Lito Banayo is a seasoned campaign strategist who was involved in the winning run of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, the late President Noynoy Aquino in 2010, President Joseph Estrada in 1998 and the late President Cory Aquino in the February 1986 snap elections. 

Political experience: Moreno regularly touts his 23 years in government service whenever he is asked about whether he is ready for the highest position in government. 

Senatorial slate

  • Samira Gutoc: A former lawmaker in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Gutoc was the first politician to transfer to Aksyon Demokratiko following Moreno's move to the party.  Gutoc placed 25th in the 2019 polls where no one from the opposition slate managed to clinch a seat in the Senate. She was a former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that worked on the draft of what would become the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
  • Jopet Sison: The former TV personality replaced replace news anchor Noli de Castro who changed his mind about running for higher office. Sison hosts the legal drama anthology “Ipaglaban Mo” of ABS-CBN Corp.
  • Carl Balita: Balita, a former radioman and entrepreneur who is also a registered nurse, midwife and licensed teacher, said that Moreno personally reached out to him to join his Senate ticket. He has promised to create laws to address health, economic and education-related "crises" caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


Moreno is campaigning on a platform for his dynamic and proactive leadership and bringing his successes in the capital city to the national stage. 

Owing to his jump from a mayoral position to the highest post in the land, he's been compared by many to President Rodrigo Duterte, himself a former mayor in Davao City. 

But what are his leanings when it comes to the issues faced by common Filipinos? Here's where the mayor from Tondo stands on our national issues. 

Public infrastructure

It's the centerpiece of his run for the highest post in the land. Over and over again, Moreno points to the progress he's built in the nation's capital city. 

Like President Rodrigo Duterte did in 2016, he says he can replicate all over the Philippines what he did in Manila City. Central to this is his infrastructure drive. 

As Manila mayor, Moreno embarked on an aggressive infrastructure campaign to address poverty and generate jobs. His city hall's projects span from low-cost housing to new city hospitals to beautification projects around the city. 

In July last year, Moreno inaugurated the BaseCommunity Housing project, the in-city two-story townhouse project for 229 poor families.

To solve the nationwide problem of housing, Moreno wants to implement a socialized housing program under Duterte’s Build, Build, Build campaign, similar to Manila local projects.

If elected, Moreno promised to allot 1.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product each year for building one million houses for 4.5 million Filipinos within six years.

This can be accomplished, he said, through pursuing vertical housing within cities and raw houses in the countryside, depending on the availability of lands.

Asked about his plan to address traffic, Moreno said he wanted more skyways and more space for cars in urban areas. 

At the presentation of his 10-Point Economic Agenda, Moreno vowed to "accelerate infrastructure building [to] strengthen physical, economic, and digital linkages [and] prioritize equitable growth."

READ: Isko Moreno wants skyways, 'more space' for cars in urban areas

Human rights, peace and order

Moreno has said he would continue the Duterte administration's flagship war on drugs but without extra-judicial killings linked to it. Over his term as Manila mayor, he has praised Duterte for the drug war, giving it an "A for effort." He has also denied that any extra-judicial killings happened in the city of Manila. 

He also said that he would allow foreign probers under the International Criminal Court to come to the Philippines to investigate alleged crimes against humanity under the Duterte administration, adding that he "would not lift a finger" to protect President Rodrigo Duterte from the investigation. 

More recently, though, Moreno clarified that while he would permit an investigation as president, he would not turn Duterte over should he be proven guilty. He said he would rather the chief executive be held accountable through domestic courts, not foreign ones.

“Hand him over? No. My job — this is where leadership comes in — my job as a president, elected president, my job is to protect you from any abuse, harm, and your rights are given to you whether you are in the Philippines or in another country,” he said. 

“Entry, you are welcome. You want to investigate, go ahead, no problem. You ask your lawyer, can ICC prosecute any Filipino in the country, as a state with an existing and running and effective justice system?”

COVID-19 response 

Moreno said that the first two years of his term will be dedicated to strengthening the health sector - along with food security, education, and housing projects.

As Manila City mayor, Moreno oversaw the construction of field hospitals — one of which he completed in just 52 days — along with the acquisitions of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines that he gives out to the public for free.

He was one of the first mayors to stock up on medicines including remdesivir, tocilizumab, baricitinib, and molnupiravir which were made available to COVID-19 patients who were given a prescription for these medications.

In the capital city, Moreno's city hall rolled out vaccines for people working in Divisoria and delivery riders passing through Manila. Among the venues used were the Manila Zoo and the Quirino Grandstand. He also held vaccination drives at the Kartilya ng Katipunan — where he eventually held his proclamation rally — for motorcycle drivers and couriers.

Moreno has highlighted the need to "police" the unvaccinated. Most recently, he allowed the Manila Police District’s arrest of six protesters who led a rally against vaccination and the national government’s pandemic response.

"In the first two years, we will build 17 world-class regional hospitals," he said.

"PhilHealth will be better managed by financial experts, barangay health centers will be upgraded and salaries as well as the securities of tenure of medical personnel ensured, mental health issues will be adequately addressed."

Public services and social safety nets

Moreno has said he would prioritize giving financial assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises, including 0% interest on loans in financial institutions. 

MSMEs are the lifeblood of the Philippine economy, making up 62.66% of the country’s total employment. The vast majority of them are in the National Capital Region, according to the Department of Trade and Industry. 

At the presentation of his 10-Point Economic Agenda, Moreno said he wants to address food security through the use of advanced technology in the agriculture sector.

He went as far as promising "100% access to safe water and sanitation by 2026" and "zero water pollution by 2028."

He said that electricity in the Philippines was "unreliable" and the "most expensive in Southeast Asia" while up to 58% of households "do not have water supply piped directly to their dwellings."

When it comes to tourism, Moreno has also proposed the creation of a Department of National Culture and History in the executive branch. He has said that he intended to prioritize countryside development by means of constructing a tourism circuit and an Iloilo-Guimaras Bridge.


The Manila City mayor has vowed to provide public school students and teachers with laptops or tablets and free broadband connection, other school supplies, and anti-COVID hygiene kits. 

He has also called for the improvement of the educational curriculum in the country by way of developing a tech-voc course as well as developing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum for more job opportunities.

Moreno vowed a 4.3% education budget to GDP ratio to widen the accessibility to quality education focused on science and technology, engineering, and mathematics. He also said his government would improve the student-teacher ratio in the country by prioritizing the continuous upscaling of teachers’ competence.

He said his government will invest in early childhood education and development.

"Everyone should have access to 1 megabyte per second internet," he also said as he promised to "improve access to information and communications technology with sub-regional, regional, and metro centers. 

Government restructuring

Decrease the number of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries and instead appoint more efficient secretaries

Moreno has consistently vowed to appoint officials based on merit rather than their political proximity to him.

But where will he get the funding for these projects? Moreno said he is looking at reducing taxes on petroleum and electricity by half to generate funding.

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