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Isko wants Rody in his ticket

I will personally vote for President Duterte for senator. I will be grateful, honored, and humbled to have somebody like the President in our slate as an additional candidate for senator

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LAPU-LAPU CITY — Presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso declared that he is willing to adopt President Rodrigo Duterte in his senatorial slate in what appears to be an effort to win the endorsement of the hugely popular Chief Executive.

Domagoso made the declaration in a chance interview with reporters here as he bared that he would personally vote for Duterte despite their previous verbal tussle.

“I will personally vote for President Duterte for senator. I will be grateful, honored, and humbled to have somebody like the President in our slate as an additional candidate for senator,” he said.

“I think he is very much capable of doing the job as a legislator,” Domagoso added.

The Palace hopeful noted that President Duterte can now be considered an “orphan” since the latter’s preferred successor, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, announced his intention to pull out of the 2022 race.

Go, however, has yet to formalize his withdrawal before the Commission on Elections, which still makes him a presidential aspirant and standard-bearer of Pederalismo ng Dakilang Dakilang Samahan (PDDS).

Domagoso’s party, Aksyon Demokratiko, has three senatorial candidates at present.

They are Samira Gutoc, a women’s rights advocate from Marawi City; Carl Balita, a registered nurse and an educator; and Jopet Sison, a former Quezon City Councilor.

“If before, I’m saying that I only have three senators so you only need to choose nine other candidates, now I’m telling you that you only need to pick eight because I now have four candidates; President Duterte,” Domagoso said.

The aspirant said that Duterte’s accomplishments, particularly his administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, is one of the reasons why he would want the President on his ticket.

“The Clark Airport, many people from Manila will benefit from it and also the Malolos-Tutuban train, their workers are from Manila. The President has done so many things,” Domagaso said.

“Let’s give credit where credit is due. President Duterte has so many accomplishments. And I believe that he can be an effective senator since through legislation, he can ensure that his legacy will be institutionalized,” he added.

The Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer said he would let the President decide whether he would accept his offer to be in his senatorial slate.

“I don’t want to preempt the president. He is free to choose who he wants to be with but it is definitely an honor for me if the president will accept my invitation for him to be an adopted senatorial candidate of Aksyon Demokratiko,” he said.

‘Not for endorsement’
Domagoso’s pronouncement triggered speculations that his statement was meant to win over Duterte’s support in 2022, a claim denied by his camp.

“It is unconditional. He just wants to give honor to PRRD as [he] is very qualified to be in the Senate,” said Lito Banayo, Domagoso’s campaign manager.

Banayo also said there were no meetings held between the two officials prior to Domagoso’s announcement.

“No meeting at all. He just said that he will vote for PRRD and if the president agrees to be endorsed as Isko’s fourth senatorial candidate,” he added.

Earlier, Domagoso said he will not refuse President Duterte’s endorsement should the outgoing official throw his support to him after Go announced his withdrawal from the presidential race.

Aksyon consulted
Domagoso had consulted his political group, Aksyon Demokratiko, on the possibility of welcoming Duterte on his 2022 slate, said party chairperson Ernest Ramel Jr.

“We stand by the pronouncement of our party president and standard-bearer. Aksyon has taken a centrist and objective stand on many issues and is not an opposition party per se,” Ramel told the Daily Tribune in a text message.

“We believe that there are current administration policies and programs worth continuing while there are some that can be improved, discontinued, or rectified. Add to that, Aksyon is willing to work with anyone that supports Mayor Isko’s Bilis Kilos programs,” he added.

The Tribune also sought Malacañang’s comment on the development, but the Palace has yet to respond at press time.

Word war
Domagoso and Duterte have had a complicated, up-and-down relationship, in the run-up of the filing of candidacies.

The Chief Executive criticized Domagoso on various issues, including his handling of the Covid 19 crisis in his city.

He even went as far as shaming a politician for supposedly modeling for sexy magazines and alleged of being trained as a “call boy,” whom he did not name. Malacañang has since denied that the president was referring to Domagoso, who was an actor and model before entering politics.

For his part, Domagoso hit back at the President and accused him of spending “more time” looking at his sexy photos than addressing the pandemic in the country, adding that he was not ashamed of his previous job in the entertainment industry.

He was also among the first mayors to lift the face shield requirement even without Malacañang’s go signal, and among those who urged Duterte to fire then-presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Cebu vote
Domagoso could not have chosen a better place to make a pro-Duterte statement than Cebu.

The province overwhelmingly voted Duterte for president in the 2016 elections, giving him 1.2 million votes, twice the number of ballots in favor of former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who settled for 600,000 votes there.

Cebu, meanwhile, picked Leni Robredo in the previous vice-presidential race. Robredo is also running for president in 2022.

As of September 2021, Cebu is the most vote-rich province in the country with over 3.2 million voters. The province also has consistently high turnouts in the polls every election.

Domagso is spending three days in Cebu.

He visited a safari tourism spot in Carmen on Sunday, and spoke with volunteers in Lapu-Lapu City and business executives in Mandaue City on Monday.

In a program, Domagoso also heeded the audience’s call for a TikTok challenge, earning the cheers of the crowd.

He is scheduled to drop by a market in Cebu City on Tuesday.

He was warmly welcomed by local officials led by Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, a member of the ruling PDP Laban, Vice Mayor Selci Sitoy, and members of the city council.

with PAT SANTOS AND MJ BLANCAFLOR

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