“Sa mga batang Maynila, sasakabilang ilog lang naman ako. Magkikita pa rin tayo.” With that, Isko Moreno Domagoso declared he will be running in the May 2022 election for President. Excellent production values for a launch. Excellent camera positioning and shot selection complete with a camera drone flying overhead. In his speech, Isko took potshots at the President, criticizing Duterte for everything that he stood for, from the time he was a candidate in 2016, up to the present, with regard to his pandemic response. Isko also focused on his humble origins of course; the batang basurero whom the fates smiled upon and is now a Presidential candidate after only three years in office as Mayor of his city. He claimed his achievements as part of his learning curve and readiness to apply what he’s learned at the local government unit (LGU), on a national level.
Some of his claims need to be corrected. Manila’s city-owned educational institutions aren’t open to non-residents. Internet connectivity is spotty at best. While he has given out tablets to students and laptops to teachers, not all have been able to receive one. There are still many who bring their own devices. As far as the City Hall bureaucracy is concerned, that hasn’t been streamlined yet. As a consultant at Universidad De Manila, I only received my hazard pay for the first enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in December 2020 after the paperwork was submitted in June. On his selection of Dr. Willie Ong as running mate, Isko explained that his Vice-Mayor, Honey Lacuna, has been a great help to him since the pandemic began and so he thought of replicating the same at the national level, seeing as how the pandemic is still raging. He didn’t make mention that Ong’s YouTube following was a factor in his decision-making process.
There was no mention of Aksyon Demokratiko the party. You got the impression that this was The Isko Moreno Show you tuned into on Facebook live. There were general references to what the public can expect from him if he wins the Presidency. These were all the standard Isko motherhood statements. The platform will be made public shortly but he did hint it wouldn’t deviate much from his style of inclusive and open governance which he adopted in Manila from Day One of his being the local chief executive. Willie Ong didn’t have a prepared speech and only had talking points. The gist of his talk was his mother’s passing compelled him to say yes to Isko after he said no the first time he was asked to be his running mate. He even said no to a spot on the Senatorial slate.
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I had the opportunity to interact with Isko several times over the eleven months I was a consultant at UDM and there is no question about his desire to help the poor. The portent of things to come became evident during the press conference after the launch. When asked by Cath Domingo of ABS-CBN about what he learned from his unsuccessful Senatorial run in 2016 and what changes he will make now that he’s running for the highest post in the land, Isko couldn’t answer in specifics but only in general terms; “Nadapa ako nun. Tinisod nga ako sa totoo lang. But we move on and move forward…,” after which he proceeded to give the mic to Willie Ong for him to answer the same question.
The truth is, Isko is a performance politician. Give him a prepared script with a speech and he will do well. But that’s his limit. His ability to answer random questions is severely limited. His glass ceiling is too low. He will easily hit his head on it. I doubt very much if Lito Banayo can prep him for the debates where he will be up against the likes of Sen. Ping Lacson and Sen. Bongbong Marcos. He can beat Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao on a one-on-one but that’s about the limit of his intellectual abilities. It is all form with little substance for Isko. He is raw for national office. If he made it to the Senate in 2016, he would’ve joined the ranks of Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla. His rhetoric against Duterte makes for good sound bites and quote cards but that’s about it. That’s the limit. Even Erap underwent extensive tutoring under Juan Ponce Enrile and Ernie Maceda before he became President.
Isko has landed his biggest role to date. What he failed to achieve in showbiz he did in politics. But if German Moreno were still around, I’m sure he would tell Isko not to run but to prepare first for higher office. As Dolphy was quoted as saying, “madali tumakbo, paano pag nanalo?” At this point in our country’s history, we need veteran leadership with experience. Objectively, other than the administration ticket, provided it doesn’t run Bong Go as President, the worthy challenger is the Ping Lacson – Tito Sotto tandem. We will have a four-way race for the two top posts in the administration ticket, Isko-Willie, Pac-Man-TBA and Lacson-Sotto. It will likely come down to a showdown between the administration ticket against Lacson-Sotto. I wouldn’t rule out a desperation move of Willie Ong being dropped in favor of Leni Robredo or a Pac-Man-Robredo tandem since Koko Pimentel has always been Yellow from the beginning. But of today, this is how the Presidential race stands.
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