Marawi volunteer hopes Isko drops ‘Duterte Lite,’ criticizes national campaign team

MANILA, Philippines – An outspoken Marawi civic leader who has been mobilizing for the presidential candidacy of Isko Moreno directed criticism at the Manila Mayor’s national campaign team and an apparent strategy to President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement.

Drieza Lininding, leader of Marawi Consensus Group, spoke out during an interview with Rappler editorial consultant and columnist John Nery, aired on Thursday, March 24.

Lininding has been supporting Moreno since hearing about how the Manila Mayor championed the construction of the capital city’s first Islamic cemetery.

He took his oath as a volunteer, before Moreno’s party Aksyon Demokratiko, back in November and was present at Moreno’s proclamation rally in February. He belongs to the Pilipinas God First volunteer group, one of the many groups that have sprung up to support Moreno.

“Let’s stop chasing the endorsement of the President. Not because I am a critic of the President but if you look at the numbers, early frontrunner siya (Moreno) eh… Noong lumabas yung ‘Duterte Lite,’ ‘secret candidate ni Duterte’ siya, doon na bumaba ang survey numbers,” said Linding.

There is no way to know for certain why Moreno’s numbers went down in earlier pre-election surveys. But it’s important to note that Lininding was speaking of the difference between surveys conducted before the finalization of presidential candidacies, and after. For instance, surveys where Moreno was at second place assumed Sara Duterte and Grace Poe would run for president, which did not happen.

A Rappler in-depth piece explains how the unexpected presidential bids of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo, and the “weak leader” criticisms of President Duterte about Marcos have led Moreno to pursue a pro-Duterte strategy.

But the strategy is not pleasing to Lininding and has turned off other volunteers or supporters. Rappler has spoken with erstwhile members of Moreno’s camp who were dismayed by his “Yellowtard” comments and his invitation for Duterte to be part of his Senate slate (at the time, the President had said he would run for senator).

Doon na nagkaroon ng reservation yung ibang voters na inisip ng iba na baka trapo ito.. I know from tao in Manila na he’s not like that. Yung Yorme na nakilala natin before the campaign trail, kung na-maintain at na-sustain ‘yon, kahit may nababangga at may nakakalaban, I think si Yorme ngayon yung front runner,” said Linding.

(Some voters had reservations because they thought, maybe this guy is a traditional politician… I know from people in Manila that he’s not like that. The Yorme we knew before the campaign trail, if he maintained and sustained that even if he would go against some people, he would be a frontrunner now.)

Before the campaign period, Moreno locked horns with Duterte in an anonymous word war where the President criticized Manila vaccination activities and even poked fun at the Mayor’s past starring in sexy films. Moreno hit back by criticizing the national government’s pandemic response.

Moreno’spalaban(fighting) attitude then energized some of his supporters.

But with Robredo capturing many anti-Duterte voters, it’s a legitimate strategy for Moreno to woo a possibly large untapped chunk of the voting populace – Duterte supporters who don’t like Marcos Junior. After all, surveys still show the President garnering high approval ratings and Moreno does carry traits that have worked for Duterte – the branding of an effective local leader with compassion for the poor.

Friction between volunteer groups, national HQ

Lininding also complained about what he described as a “barrier” between Isko volunteer groups and Moreno’s national campaign team led by veteran political strategist Lito Banayo.

He accused Banayo of being “too traditional” and not giving enough attention to volunteers who are driving the organic growth in support for Moreno.

“The problem there really is Ambassador Lito Banayo. Some volunteers left before because of ATB (Angelito Banayo), not because of ill will towards Isko Moreno,” said Lininding in Filipino.

“We need to invest in the homegrown, grassroots [movements] for Isko Moreno because even if you hold a one-on-one meeting with congressmen, mayors, if you don’t have the [survey] numbers, they won’t support you,” he added.

It’s a lesson Linning wishes Banayo and the rest of the team learned from the 2016 Duterte campaign when many disparate volunteer groups somehow worked together with the national campaign team for decentralized mobilization efforts grounded on central messaging.

Banayo was part of the Duterte campaign team but was not involved in coordinating with volunteers, a job that fell to the Davao group of the campaign team.

Yet Linding remains an all-out Isko supporter, impressed with his plans for Mindanao and Marawi rehabilitation.

Siguro magagalit sila sa akin but because mahal ko si Yorme, personally I invested so much kasi yung pangalan natin binigay natin kay Isko Moreno and I think mayroon pang oras to correct this struggle inside,” said Linding.

(Maybe they will get angry with me but because I love Yorme, personally I invested so much because I staked my name on Isko Moreno and I think there is time to correct this struggle inside.)

Banayo’s take

Banayo responded by telling Rappler that, having been part of the Duterte campaign, he would be “the last person to disdain direct people support.”

“What are we doing now? Isn’t it going directly to the people?” he said.

Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel, meanwhile, said Lininding gave an “unfair characterization” of the national campaign team’s thrust.

“All volunteer organizations are welcome and are heard… All sorts of Mayor Isko are the team effort of volunteer organizations and are in consultation with them,” Ramel told Rappler in Filipino.

He added that Moreno’s meetings with local government officials are still important because they are a form of courtesy. – Rappler.com

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