Isko Moreno party downplays volunteer group's switch of support for VP Robredo

Isko Moreno party downplays volunteer group's switch of support for VP Robredo
Photo shows Lito Banayo, campaign strategist of Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno, speaking to reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Philstar.com Screengrab / Isko Moreno Domagoso on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Manila City Mayor and presidential candidate Isko Moreno belied and played down claims that volunteer groups in the Visayas have switched their support for Vice President Leni Robredo, insisting that supporters in the region remain solidly behind Moreno. 

At a press briefing Tuesday, campaign strategist Lito Banayo asserted that "various sectoral and volunteer groups remain solid" in their support for Moreno, contrary to claims made by the lead convenor of the Ikaw Muna Pilipinas Visayas chapter supposedly shifting the group’s support to another candidate. 

“Only one person was speaking for them, it was Nick Malazarte, and there was a statement of the majority of the Visayas for Isko, while there were also groups from Cebu denying the claim of Mr. Malazarte,” Banayo said in Filipino. 

Banayo pointed out that Moreno and his team will be going to Cebu over the weekend where they will be hosted by volunteer groups based in Cebu and Visayas.

"So we don't actually know how many are switching to Vice President Leni,” he added.

'Switch to Isko?': Volunteers switching to VP Robredo

To recall, the secretary-general of IM Pilipinas, a major volunteer network launched in June last year to convince Moreno to run for president, said it is considering pulling out to support the candidacy of Vice President Robredo. This comes after the movement's coordinator in Visayas, Nick Malazarte, announced switching allegiance from Moreno to Robredo.

“We respect the decision of some of our members. We are a volunteer organization. No one is being paid. We banded together for a common cause,” Argaño said.

“On our part in the national, we are seriously observing the situation because as we all see and know, the challenge is really uphill for our candidate (Isko), and the only way we see this will work is if all the candidates unite against Marcos,” he added.

The volunteer network has 20,000 active members and 200,000 to 300,000 volunteers in 30 provincial chapters, according to secretary-general Elmer Argaño Argaño.

But Banayo said that his statements were corroborated by the leaders of various groups in the Visayas who pointed out that Malazarte’s presence is hardly felt on the ground. 

"I think it is not right for us to base decisions on surveys," Banayo said. 

Banayo: Surveys not reflective of on-ground sentiment

Winley Dela Fuente, head of the Visayas for Isko-Sara Alliance, said that Malazarte has not been actively participating in the activities of the sectoral groups in the Visayas that are pushing Moreno’s candidacy. 

Edward Ligas, head of President Isko Movement-Isulong ang Kapakanan ng Pilipina, noted that Moreno is actually getting tremendous support on the ground, with at least 30 sectoral groups in the Visayas backing Moreno. 

On the other hand, Ely Abella, head of Inisyatibo ng Makabayang Pilipino, said that it was actually Malazarte who does not have solid followers that can help boost Moreno’s bid, and his decision to leave will be hardly felt. 

In the meantime, Banayo warned that it is not right for people to base decisions on surveys at this point in time, since the present toxic environment and the lack of real time survey results makes pre-election polls unreliable. 

“In a toxic environment such as what we have, where pink trolls proliferate, that's why many do not answer truthfully in the surveys because of the bashing that happens on both sides. So this has engendered a sense of fear on the part of a lot of people,” Banayo explained. 

“Again, these are snapshots. Lahat ng surveys na nakikita natin ay mga either mid-February or first week of March. But they don't cover events that happen really fast, like this P203 billion estate tax claim against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. How it impacts on his number, we still do not know in this point in time,” Banayo said. 

Isko camp pushes 'alternative candidate' narrative anew

The political strategist slammed the Robredo camp and what he said was the Vice President's "own ambition to become president, riding on an anti-Marcos sentiment and supposedly moral principles."

“In other words, what we are talking about here, if we continue this, is that we will unite for one person. That's not right. Because in our view, we are fighting for the people, not one person or one faction, ” Banayo said.

“It's about people, it’s not about warring factions. It’s not about exclusive factions who think they are morally upright compared to the rest of humanity. So, I don’t think that will prosper,” Banayo said. 

It is unclear why the political party is now giving credence to groups such as Visayas for Isko-Sara Alliance after earlier pushing back against the idea of a tandem. Moreno has said that his only vice presidential candidate will be Dr. Willie Ong. 

READ: Moderate positioning continues as 'populist' Moreno makes many promises but few plans

— Franco Luna with reports from The STAR




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