Isko Moreno echoes claims about the opposition often repeated by President Duterte himself and his supporters
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidate and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno echoed claims about Vice President Leni Robredo and the Liberal Party long made by President Rodrigo Duterte and Malacañang in an interview with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar that clearly pandered to the Chief Executive’s loyal base.
In the interview taped on March 7 but aired on state-run channel PTV on Thursday, March 17, Moreno spoke of why he supports tandem voting or when the running mate of a winning presidential candidate automatically becomes vice president. He was pitching to viewers that they elect him and his running mate Willie Ong together.
Moreno said the best argument for this would be the conflict between Duterte and Robredo who were elected together but came from different political parties.
“Tingnan mo nangyari sa atin. Nanalo si Presidente. Kontra partido yung nanalo. Anong ginawa ng kontra partido, limang taon binembang lang nang binembang si President Duterte,” Moreno told Andanar, a member of Duterte’s Cabinet.
(Look what happened to us. The President won. The opposing party also won. What did the opposing party do? For five years, they just butted heads with President Duterte.)
Moreno went on the imply that the Liberal Party wanted to wrestle the presidency from Duterte, echoing the President himself who has long alleged that the “yellows” were behind a supposed “ouster plot.”
“I thought you are going to do public service’s why you wanted to get elected and for the past so many years, wala ka nang ginawa kung ‘di awayin nang awayin yung Presidente, pagtangkaan mong mawala sa puwesto para maagaw mo yung puwesto,” said Moreno.
(You did nothing but kept on fighting the President and attempt to oust him so you could get his position.)
The Manila mayor, who would welcome a Duterte endorsement of his presidential bid, said such moves against a sitting president have been attempted through armed confrontation.
“In fact, hindi lang yung political attack ang nangyayari, minsan nga through armed process pa eh, kaya nagkakaroon tayo ng mga kudeta,” said Moreno.
(In fact, it’s not just political attacks that happened. It could also be through armed process sometimes, that’s why we have coup d’etats.)
He said a vice president should just “work within the system” instead of “pushing [their] political belief.”
Pandering to Duterte base
These claims about the Vice President and her party are a common refrain among hardcore Duterte supporters who insist that they have done nothing but oppose the administration.
But this is belied by the fact that Robredo actually served as a Duterte Cabinet member for five months in 2016, when the President made her housing czar. She resigned in December that year after Duterte barred her from attending Cabinet meetings, angered over her opposing positions on various issues.
She even took his offer of being Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) drug co-chairperson, a position Duterte fired her from after less than a month.
Despite, a tiny Office of the Vice President budget, Robredo still implemented various livelihood and development programs and mobilized her staff to render assistance during calamities and natural disasters.
Her office’s COVID-19 pandemic efforts received much praise and were defended by Duterte himself when a government appointee of his proposed investigation Robredo for her programs.
Moreno himself worked with Robredo when she picked Manila to be the pilot site of her Vaccine Express program back in June 2021.
That Moreno is echoing sentiments common among hardcore Duterte supporters is no surprise given an apparent campaign strategy to court the President’s base, and the President himself. Moreno has said he would warmly welcome an endorsement of his presidential bid by Duterte.
With Robredo attracting voters critical of Duterte to begin with, Moreno is hoping to get the backing of Duterte supporters who might be against Marcos or disillusioned by him.
Based on recent surveys, Moreno is still in third place, behind Robredo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose running mate is Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte.