Manila Mayor Franciso “Isko Moreno” Domagoso has joined the race to become the next president of the Philippines.
Domagoso declared his plan to run for president Wednesday (September 22), and immediately drew star support from actress and congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto.
Santos-Recto, popularly known as Ate Vi, is currently Deputy Speaker at the House of Representatives, and Representative for the Sixth District of Batangas.
Santos-Recto and her husband Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto will be backing Domagoso.
Domagoso was a former actor, popularly known as Isko Moreno.
“Vilma and I, including our supporters in Batangas and coordinators nationwide, are supporting Mayor Isko and Dr.Willy Ong for president and vice president respectively,” Ralph Recto said.
“Mayor Isko has the training, skills, experience and leadership to be an outstanding president. He has shown this as mayor of Manila most specially during this pandemic. He is young and implements his programs quickly. He will make a good president,” the senator added.
His wife Santos-Recto agreed.
“Ýes, we will support him. Mayor Isko is an inspiring and God-loving leader and we can see his drive to serve the Filipino people with a heart, hope and action,” Vilma Santos-Recto said.
“With what he did to Manila, especially during this pandemic, we saw his focus and sincerity as a leader,” she added.
Recto said he will make an official announcement of support for the Moreno-Ong ticket on September 30.
Santos-Recto will also announce her decision whether or not to run for a Senate seat.
The filing of candidacies is in October, and Domagoso also gunning for the presidency dashed any hope left to have a united opposition backstopped by the mayor, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
Domagoso confirmed having met with Robredo and Pacquiao but declined to give any details.
Pacquiao on September 19 declared that he would run for president under the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction led by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd.
The other wing of PDP-Laban headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had nominated Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as standard bearer, but he declined.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, accepted the nomination of the Cusi wing to run for vice president.
Pacquiao, a world boxing champion, said he has officially accepted the nomination to be the standard-bearer of the PDP-Laban faction led by Senator Aquilino Pimentel.
“We are ready to rise to the challenge of leadership,” he said during the nomination speech at the PDP-Laban faction’s national assembly, vowing to lead the Southeast Asian country with “integrity, compassion, and transparency.”
Candidates for the 2022 elections will officially file their certificate of candidacy in October.
The elections will be held on May 9, 2022.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III on September 8 officially launched their bid for the country’s two highest posts.
Lacson will be seeking the presidency — a second attempt after a failed 2004 bid — while Sotto will be running for vice president.
A first spurred by the pandemic, the event was pretaped in front of a small live audience and other viewers who joined through videoconference. A 30-minute cut of the event was streamed on the candidates’ social media pages.
Emphasized by both senators were the more than 80 years of public service between them.
“We have the proven competence, integrity, and courage to lead the country so we can rise from the rut we are in,” Lacson said in his speech delivered in Filipino.
Lacson also took a swipe at President Duterte, referencing the chief executive’s final SONA where he admitted that he was wrong to think that governing a country would be as easy as governing Davao City.
Duterte, mayor of Davao City for 22 years, was referring specifically to fighting illegal drugs.
“The country is drowning in debt, many lost their jobs because of business closures, the number of poor Filipinos has increased and so has the sector of people who have gone hungry,” Lacson said.
“[C]orruption is rampant, illegal drugs are still prevalent, some parts of our territory in the West Philippines Sea are gradually disappearing.”
While they are campaigning as alternative candidates to the administration, Sotto and Lacson are part of a Senate majority that has generally legislated according to the president’s agenda.
Lacson was the principal sponsor of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a measure that petitioners before the Supreme Court say has potential for abuse and could be used to silence legitimate dissent and criticism.
Sotto has also defended on several occasions Duterte’s flagship campaign against illegal drugs despite its high death toll and criticism that it is actually a campaign against the poor. Lacson, a former police chief, criticized the “drug war” as a “failure” only this year — over five years into its implementation.
Sotto, meanwhile, vowed that their campaign would be centered on trust.
“We need a country that values morality,” Sotto stressed.
Sotto also placed a premium on unity as a path to victory.
He and Lacson recently met with Vice President Robredo, who may yet run as the opposition candidate for 2022, in an attempt to consolidate the opposition but talks fell through.
The president’s daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, may still seek the presidency after topping national surveys.