Willie Ong’s absence at Isko Moreno’s BARMM sorties noted

February 22, 2022 - 7:27 PM
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Isko Moreno in Mindanao
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno in a campaign sortie in Mindanao in this photo shared on his Facebook page on Feb. 22, 2022. (Photo from Facebook/Isko Moreno Domagoso)

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso was spotted campaigning in Mindanao without his running mate, physician and social media personality Willie Ong. This prompted social media users to recall Moreno’s previous remarks on unity.

The Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer visited the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao without Ong, reports note.

A photo of the Manila city chief in a campaign vehicle bearing posters of him as if he is in tandem with another vice presidential bet also circulated on social media.

The posters show a photo of Moreno and frontrunner for vice president, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, under the so-called “IsSa” tandem. She is the running mate of presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Lito Banayo, Moreno’s campaign strategist, said he was the one who decided not to bring Ong in their sorties in BARMM, especially in Maguindanao where the Mangudadatus have openly declared their preference for the “IsSa” tandem.

The Mangudadatus is a known political clan in the province.

“That was my call. That was my decision. Because whenever you make sorties or campaign trips, you send an advance team, normally, four or five days beforehand, even a week beforehand. They called me up and they said, ‘Boss, it’s full streamers here, full of Isko-Sara,’ tarpaulins, puro Isko-Sara,” Banayo said on Monday.

“So I called up Doc Willie, and I said, ‘Doc, maybe it’s better for you not to join us in Mindanao because I don’t want to put you in an embarrassing situation where the tarpaulins there are of an Isko-Sara [tandem],'” he added.

Banayo stressed that despite the supporter-driven initiative, the Manila mayor did not say anything about supporting Duterte-Carpio as a vice presidential.

“He (Moreno) did not say he was supporting Sara at all. He didn’t say that at all. Pero doon kasi sa Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, wala rin naman silang sinabi, ‘yung mga speaker, ‘yung major power blocs, wala din naman silang sinabi na Isko-Sara,” the campaign strategist said.

Moreno also said that he is still running with Ong in the elections despite the pairings with another aspirant.

“Ako po, Isko-Doc Willie, period. ‘Yung mga organisasyon may kanya-kanya. As a candidate, hindi naman natin mapipigilan kayo, ang choices ninyo, kasi hindi naman tayo two-party system katulad ng Estados Unidos,” the presidential hopeful said on Tuesday.

The presidential aspirant added that he has high respect for Ong whom he described as a good person.

“Maswerte ako mga kababayan. Sana makilala ninyo ng husto si Doc Willie. Napakabait, napakadisente, napakalinis ng puso if you really know him, and I’m fortunate maganda ‘yung kanyang saloobin,” Moreno added.

In response to the reports, Ong had initially said he has no hard feelings about the “mix and match” of candidates.

“Wala akong galit sa puso ko kasi hindi siya makakatulong eh,” the physician said on Monday.

“Sa politika, away-away eh. ‘Pag pinasok mo galit sa puso mo, doon na masisira ‘yung kamada,” Ong added.

The vice presidential hopeful had also thanked Moreno for choosing him as his running mate in the upcoming elections.

“Tuloy-tuloy tayo, [eyes] on the ball ako eh, kailangan kong manalo. Kasi kailangan kong maibigay ‘yung tulong sa mahihirap, sa gamutan, sa pagkain, ‘di ba?” Ong said.

The next day, however, the vice-presidential candidate said that there were machinations at play in the Maguindanao sorties.

“Maraming nangyayari sa pulitika na ‘di niyo alam. Maraming layers pa ‘yan na ‘di niyo alam. Pero may mga political experts na baka makahula ng tunay na sitwasyon… Pero ako, parang alam ko na ano ‘yung laro eh,” Ong was quoted as saying.

“Mayroong mga bagay na hindi for public consumption… Mahirap magsalita, iba ang politics. But I know their game,” he added.

Isko on Leni: You cannot talk of unity 

Meanwhile, Moreno’s campaign, perceived to promote another vice presidential bet, didn’t please some Filipinos who recalled how he blasted fellow presidential aspirant, Vice President Leni Robredo, about supposedly failing to keep her party united.

A Reddit user recalled his previous remarks and shared them on the platform with the post caption: “This aged like milk.”

“Ironic kasi hindi nya ma-UNIFY si Ong at Maguindanao,” another online user commented.

“Tapos sasabihin mo si Leni ‘yung nang-iiwan sa grupo niya, pwe,” a Filipino from Twitter commented.

“Isko really had the nerve to accuse VP Leni of jumping parties left and right,” another Twitter user wrote in response to the incidents.

During the Certificate for Candidacy filing in October, the Manila mayor criticized Robredo for supposedly jumping parties.

Moreno’s comments came after Robredo said the city chief’s stance on the Marcos family was among the triggers on why she decided to run for the presidency.

“Huwag kayong malilinlang sa pagpapalitan ng kulay… Ang tanso, tubugin man ng ginto ay tanso pa rin… Fake leader with fake color is a fake character,” Moreno said in October.

“Marcos again? Why does our world have to revolve around the fight between Marcos and Aquino? The fight between the children of Marcos and the children and allies of the Yellowtards? Oh, it’s pink already, sorry,” he added.

The mayor also said Robredo “cannot talk” about unity with her situation.

“You cannot talk of unity, eh you yourself hindi mo nga ma-unify sarili mo. You are not even proud of your party, oh my god. Kung kaya mo iwanan ‘yung mga kasama mo, paano pa kaming 110 million Pilipinos?” he added.

Robredo, also chairperson of the Liberal Party, is running as an independent candidate but her campaign team is reported to be partly composed of Liberal Party officials.

She said running independently was her way of showing people that she is open to developing alliances with other political parties.

“Running for independent is our symbolic way of showing na bukas kami sa pakikipag-alyansa sa maraming mga partido, na ‘yung aming isinusulong na inclusivity. ‘Yung sinimulan namin na pakikipag-usap kahit hindi bahagi ng partido,” Robredo said in response.

“‘Yung pagkakandidato naman para sa pangulo ay hindi para sa partido, pero para sa pagkakaisang-lakas ng sambayanan,” she added.