Isko Moreno’s acts would have dismayed Roco, ex-partymates say
MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s remarks and actions against his fellow presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo have “gravely damaged the integrity” of Aksyon Demokratiko, according to former party members and volunteers who have withdrawn support for him.
“I have lost trust in Mayor Isko, who is the party president,” John Erdie delos Santos, former executive director of Aksyon Demokratiko, told the Inquirer on Thursday. “He does not represent the principles and values of [the party]. His actions are against [its] core principles.”
Delos Santos said he resigned from the party “out of delicadeza” as early as April 2.
“I also told the leadership that I [have] decided to support Vice President Leni Robredo, whom we worked with before Mayor Isko joined Aksyon,” he said.
Delos Santos and other former Aksyon Demokratiko officials and members and former Domagoso campaign organizers and volunteers—numbering eight—issued a statement early this week expressing their “profound disappointment” at the mayor’s remarks during an Easter Sunday press conference in which he assailed Robredo and called on her to withdraw from the presidential race. They also said they have switched allegiance to the Vice President.
Domagoso has since amped up his attack on Robredo, lately calling her the “godmother of bullies” for purportedly telling him to pull out of contention and reiterating that it was she who should do so.
‘Fight for nationhood’
With 17 days left before Election Day, Robredo said she would not stoop to Domagoso’s level.
“Hindi ko na siya papatulan because this is not a simple fight between me and him,” she told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of a campaign sortie in Bogo City, Cebu. “This is the fight for our nationhood. There are bigger things we need to win.”
Apart from Delos Santos, the other former Aksyon Demokratiko members and volunteers who have dropped Domagoso as their candidate are: Kaye Ann Legaspi, party vice president for youth; Jose Marco Terrado and Rewin Eros Maghirang and Darren Gonzales, Isko Tayo Kabataan founding conveners and founding member, respectively; Paul Andrei Roset, party candidate for city councilor in San Pablo, Laguna; Bryan Ezra Gonzales, Isko Moreno national campaign editorial volunteer; and Kevin Mandrilla, Isko Tayo Kabataan member.
‘Opportunity to retaliate’
In their statement, they said the party’s founder, the late former presidential candidate and Sen. Raul Roco, would have been “displeased” with what Domagoso “had done to the reputation of the very party that he worked so hard to build.”
“It was clear that Moreno saw the press conference as an opportunity to retaliate against initial calls by Robredo’s supporters for him to withdraw … but the good mayor … should be reminded that Robredo herself never made that appeal,” they said.
Moreno issued the call for Robredo’s withdrawal at the Peninsula Manila press conference attended by his running mate Dr. Willie Ong, other presidential candidates Sen. Panfilo Lacson and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and Lacson’s running mate Senate President Tito Sotto.
Gonzales backed Moreno’s remarks but later apologized for doing so. Lacson and Sotto distanced themselves from the mayor’s call for Robredo’s withdrawal. Ong said he disagreed with his running mate’s call.
“With his recent remarks, Moreno has made himself an accessory to the return of the kind of politics that he has been claiming to fight against. It seems that Moreno is unaware of his real enemy in the race,” said his eight former supporters.
They said they had initially believed that it was Moreno who could deliver “effective and decisive action, and bring about a new kind of politics,” but that he had “fallen far from what he thought he was.”
They added that they now looked on Robredo as “the only candidate with integrity, composure and expertise to effectively handle the most difficult job in the government during the most challenging time in our country’s recent history.”
It was the first time the Vice President herself addressed the much-criticized press conference at the Rigodon Ballroom of the luxurious Peninsula Manila Hotel.
Moreno has since publicly demanded that Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez stop speaking for her and answer him directly on her supposed wish for him to withdraw his candidacy—a claim that Gutierrez has repeatedly denied.
On Thursday, Robredo obliged, only to say that she “encourages everyone to stay focused.”
“We will not spend time fighting with other candidates because there is a bigger fight ahead of us,” she said, referring to candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s wide lead in preelection surveys.
Robredo also addressed the charge that she had warned of destabilization if she would lose the presidential election. It was Moreno himself who made the claim during an interview with pro-administration blogger Banat By, who is now supportive of his presidential candidacy.
“I return the question to the media: Have you ever heard me say anything like that? I never said that. Ayoko na kasi siyang patulan because there is a bigger fight against us,” the Vice President said.
“My focus is not to get distracted by everything that’s going on; I am focused on this fight for our nation,” she said.
Not just bullies, but also ‘matapobre,’ Isko Moreno says in latest tirade vs Robredo
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