Isko Moreno camp 'unaffected' by volunteer defections to Robredo campaign

Isko Moreno camp 'unaffected' by volunteer defections to Robredo campaign
Presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso flashes his "God first" sign as he addresses residents during the grand proclamation rally of local candidates led by mayoralty aspirant Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna in Sampaloc, Manila on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Manila City Mayor and presidential candidate Isko Moreno Domagoso on Tuesday said he remains unaffected by the defection of a volunteer group to the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo saying this is all part of politics. 

“This is a democracy. They can do whatever they want to do. They are entitled to their own opinion,” Moreno said in a media interview before embarking on a motorcade in San Pedro, Laguna. 

To recall, volunteers at a press conference earlier that day said they shifted their support because they want to unify and stand behind a candidate that can beat Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late ousted dictator. 

Moreno took the opportunity to once again frame himself as an alternative candidate to the mainstream political arena he claims is dominated by the Marcos family and the Liberal Party. 

“As far as I know, they said they were very angry with Marcos. But I'm not angry with Marcos. What makes me angry with Marcos? Why would I take it personally against Leni Robredo, Marcos or against Ping Lacson, or Manny Pacquiao? They are my competitors, I am their competitor, straight and simple."

The group however acknowledged that the sins of Marcos Sr. were not those of his son. But they said a Marcos return to the Palace would be "symbolic" and a "resurrection" for the Marcos family. The group also took note of what it said was Robredo’s clear economic agenda for the country.

Moreno's statement comes in the middle of his party's offensive against Marcos. Aksyon Demokratiko in past weeks has been bringing up Marcos' estate tax issue in media briefings and letters to national government agencies. The party has taken the position that a Marcos presidency would mean the P203-billion estate tax owed to the government is "gone forever."

The 47-year-old told reporters that the officers of IM Pilipinas never talked to him about their plan to defect to another camp. “That is a very good question. Did they talk to me? No!,” he said. “Good luck, I wish them good luck. It’s a test of character.”

Moreno’s camp earlier brushed off reports of groups withdrawing their support for the Manila mayor’s candidacy, saying the announcements might not reflect the sentiments of every volunteer and member.

“So, again many thanks to them. I wish them all the best and these separates the men from the boys. As I have said, the fight is hard but the people of the town do not give up on their problem. The people who do not give up on the problems they face, what is the reason for us to give up? ”Moreno said.

The Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet pointed out that the latest defectors to the Robredo camp were the same group of people who last week expressed their preference for the vice president who, they believe, has a better chance of beating frontrunner Marcos Jr. 

Moreno attributed to “politics” the series of defections of volunteer groups from his camp going to the camp of Robredo.  

"I respect their opinion but I will repeat, you know I did not run to fight or hate Leni Robredo, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, they are not my enemies. The fight of other people is what brings weight to every Filipino,” Moreno said.

Volunteer group asserts support for Moreno

IM Pilipinas secretary general Philip Piccio maintained that the organization remains solid and firm in pushing for the pro-people programs of Moreno and is reiterating its “commitment to support” the Aksyon Demokratiko presidential candidate even beyond the May 2022 polls. 

“We are maintaining what we have started ever since the day that Yorme Isko has decided to file his candidacy for president… we are still going strong as our members continuous to grow in all regions of the country,” Piccio said. “We will continue with our progams beyond the May 2022 national polls."

IM Pilipinas Central Luzon regional head and Pampanga Board Member Jun Canlas said that amid various challenges in the time of political bickering and divisiveness during the campaign season, the group is continuously gaining support from various sectors nationwide as they deliver help to the people at the grassroots level. 

"We feel the real support from our countrymen who like us want to elect a president who is honest with the people and this is Yorme Isko Moreno… we will continue and firmly provide assistance to those in need," IM Pilipinas Region 2 head Sherwin Bariuan said.

IM Pilipinas has been actively moving around the country through its mobile team. Initially focused on 13 areas nationwide, the BilisKilos Mobile Team visited high-density areas such as public markets, churches, plazas, and tourist spots, among others.

Garcia steps down from One Cebu

House Deputy Speaker and Rep. PJ Garcia (Cebu 3rd District) affirmed Tuesday his support for the candidacy of Moreno, saying he cannot support Ferdinand Marcos Jr. despite One Cebu’s endorsement. 

In a statement, Cong. PJ stressed that he is not someone who will abandon a comrade-in-arms mid-battle. “And I am not about to do so now, in the few years left of my political life,” he said. 

“I have been officially informed that my party, One Cebu, has endorsed a candidate for President; a choice which, unfortunately, I cannot support,” he said following One Cebu’s general assembly meeting where the endorsement for the son and namesake of the ousted dictator was made.

"From the start, I have been clear and consistent about my support for Mayor Isko Moreno's candidacy for President, believing that he is, among the many choices, the most capable and best prepared to lead the country out of this many-pronged crisis that it now faces, and into the future,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said he respects One Cebu and its decision, just as he hopes that the party he helped found, and have only the deepest affection for, would respect his choice and direction.  

“As I intend to continue actively campaigning for Mayor Isko in the remaining days of the campaign, I am stepping down as Secretary-General of One Cebu in order to avoid any conflict of interest,” Garcia said. 

Also on Tuesday, around 50 officers of the Visayas for Isko – Sara Alliance signed a manifesto of support, unanimously and fully supporting Moreno for president and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for vice president. 

It is unclear why this was highlighted in a press release issued by Moreno's camp. Moreno himself has pushed back against calls pairing him with the presidential daughter, saying Dr. Willie Ong is his only running mate. 

The VISA convenors represent two parallel organizations – Marcos Pa Rin and Partido Federal ng Pilipinas – that are both formerly supporting the presidential bid of Marcos Jr. 

— Franco Luna with a report from Kaycee Valmonte




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