From Yorme to ‘Lo-Pangu’

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

Turning 47 years old later this month, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso a.k.a. Isko “Yorme” Moreno is one of the two youngest candidates in next year’s presidential elections. The other is 42-year-old world boxing champion turned politician, Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Initially, former Manila Mayor and now Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza tried but failed to put together a Moreno-Pacquiao or Pacquiao-Moreno tandem for the May 9, 2022 elections.

Both, however, eventually decided to pursue their respective presidential bids. Moreno is the presidential standard-bearer of the Aksyon Demokratiko along with Doc Willie Ong as vice presidential (VP) runningmate. On the other hand, Atienza became the VP runningmate of Pacquiao under the Cebu-based PROMDI party.

At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum via zoom webinar last Wednesday, Moreno acknowledged Atienza for such efforts to bring together a possible winning team but did not come to fruition. Moreno, however, did not close the doors for possibly joining of forces before the election campaign period starts in February. At the outset though, Moreno ruled out loose talks and rumors of his supposed plans to slide down to the VP race.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given all aspirants and political parties vying in next year’s national and local elections until Nov. 15 to submit “substitution” candidates.

As far as Moreno is concerned, he is determined to pursue his presidential bid. He realizes though he needs the help and support of Filipino voters. If they wish to have a “leader who listens to them and acts fast,” Moreno reiterated his “job application” to become the next President of the Philippines for the next six years.

The former actor-turned-politician first got elected in public office in 1998 as Manila councilor representing the district of his birthplace in Tondo. The rest is history – as we say – when Moreno later run and won as Manila Vice Mayor for three consecutive terms. Now as Mayor of Manila, Moreno reported P70 million as his latest net worth.

It was after his third term of office as Vice Mayor, with former president Joseph Estrada as Mayor of Manila when Moreno decided to run next as Senator during the May 2016 elections. He lost though under the PDP-Laban ticket that carried former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as their presidential standard-bearer. A year later, President Duterte appointed him to various posts in his administration, the last was as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Thus, Moreno’s political foes picture him as a “closet” administration candidate of President Duterte. Moreno refuses to dignify the rumors that persist even after he got sworn in as the new party chieftain of the Aksyon Demokratiko carrying his presidential bid. “Technically,” he cited, it is the tandem of Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Christopher “Bong” Go who are the administration-backed candidates of President Duterte under the PDP-Laban banner.

“I am nobody’s anointed candidate,” Moreno swears.

Describing politics as a “harsh environment” to thrive in, Moreno waxes philosophically that he has learned to rock and roll with the punches. For seven times he gets knocked out and falls down, Moreno prides self getting up again eight times more than his failures, mistakes, and whatever shortcomings he commits in life and work. And always moves on forward, he stressed for so many times during our more than an hour-long conversations with him at Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.

Opting not to dwell in the past, Moreno frowns upon vindictiveness by certain politicians. If one truly wishes to lead the country to better and brighter future, Moreno warned against running on personal vendetta or selfish agenda that will surely “drag down the Filipinos” with them. Moreno vows to break the vicious cycle of vendetta every change of administration of government in our country.

He cited his own experience when he assumed as new Mayor of the city of Manila after a bitterly fought mayoral contest against Mr. Estrada who run for re-election as mayor. He reached out and engaged Estrada’s officials and loyal supporters at City Hall. And now, he noted, they all work together with him to help Manileños get back to work safely amid the “pandemic that is here to stay.”

Although he did not mention any names, Moreno was obviously taking a dig anew to the public declarations of VP Leni Robredo. In filing her last-minute decision to run as “independent” presidential candidate, VP Robredo admitted one of the reasons is to prevent the return to power of the Marcoses. It was, of course, referring to former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the namesake son of the martial law dictator, who is now among their rivals in the presidential race.

As someone eyeing the presidency, Moreno declared his readiness to meet head on the challenges in the country coming out from the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. He was less than a year into office, Moreno recalled, the city government buckled down to work and refocused priorities “to get ahead” of the pandemic. While the national government imposed lockdowns, Moreno gathered men and resources to save and protect the lives and livelihood of his constituents.

“The enemy is COVID-19 pandemic,” Moreno pointed out.

Ominous of the struggles and successes he went through in life, Moreno got COVID-19 infection last August even as he was fully inoculated with Sinovac vaccine. He thanked God and his family in and out of City Hall in surviving the flu-like symptoms of COVID-19. He got well a week after being confined at Sta. Ana Hospital, one of the city’s six hospitals with wards for COVID-19 patients.

Honed by his street-smart real-life experiences, a bio-flick of the poor boy from Tondo would be shown for public viewing by next month. For now, Moreno relishes on the thoughts of his “Yorme” title would hopefully – by God’s graces – be transformed to “Lo-Pangu,” an anagram for “Pangulo” (President) of the Philippines.

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