Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Wednesday vowed to become “a healing president” as he officially launched his bid at the Baseco Compound in Tondo, Manila — a symbolic gesture of his past in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods of the capital city.
Moreno traces his roots from the place where he claimed to have been lured to show business while digging for scraps and reusable materials for resale.
In the event that was first announced by Daily Tribune, Moreno raised the hand of Willy Ong, a cardiologist who commands more than 10 million online followers on his social media pages where he usually shares health tips, as his vice-presidential running-mate.
Ong ran for a senatorial slot in 2019 but lost.
“I will be a healing president. I will not spend nights rambling on senseless thoughts that will get you agitated. While ours will be a government of national reconstruction, it will also be a government of national reconciliation, based on justice and rule of law,” Moreno said.
Moreno, 46, projects himself as a youthful and effective leader — traits that drove him straight to the Manila mayoralty post in 2019 against political heavyweights Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Alfredo Lim.
Estrada had served as Philippine president in 1998 but whose term was aborted in 2001. He also served as senator and had two terms as mayor of Manila.
Lim also served as a senator and had four terms as mayor of Manila.
Moreno defended his choice of Ong, saying he has an untarnished reputation and service record in his chosen field of endeavor. He said he believes that Ong’s expertise as a medical practitioner will be beneficial to the nation that is still battling a pandemic.
“Dr. Ong is no traditional politician. He has no political machinery to reckon with and has no huge financial backing from bigwigs, but the mayor saw well beyond that”, Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna said.
Deputy Speaker and Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto, meanwhile, expressed her support for Moreno and Ong.
“Mayor Isko is an inspiring and God-loving leader. We can see his drive to serve the Filipino people with a heart, hope, and action,” Santos-Recto, also an award-winning actress, said.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez also chipped in, saying Moreno’s choice of Ong was “excellent”.
“I have known Dr. Willy, a close friend, as a decent man whose heart is in the right place. He is an excellent choice,” said Romualdez, whom President Rodrigo Duterte said was his own pick for vice president.
Duterte, however, will seek the vice presidency in tandem with Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who was picked by the PDP Laban as its official presidential bet.
The PDP Laban wing of Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, however, had chosen the octuple world boxing champion as its presidential candidate.
In a related development, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said his wife, Santos-Recto, may consider running for a senatorial slot under the Moreno-Ong ticket.
“Vilma and I, including our supporters in Batangas and coordinators nationwide, are supporting Mayor Isko and Dr. Willy Ong,” Recto said.
Recto is likely to swap places with his wife. They are staying as members of the Nacionalista Party, though.
Moreno is now the president of Aksyon Demokratiko, the political party founded by the late Senator Raul Roco in 1997, after leaving the National Unity Party recently.
WITH SUNDY LOCUS AND MICHELLE GUILLANG