A hand gesture of an electoral bet after the presidential debates gained online buzz after some Twitter users claimed that it is associated with drug use.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, more commonly known as Moreno, was spotted with a certain hand gesture after CNN Philippines’ presidential debates last Sunday.
The news network shared a picture of him doing what Filipinos call a “two joints” sign.
In both hands, Moreno was seen placing his thumbs and forefinger together while the rest of his fingers are up in the air.
A teen-oriented website said that this is a hand gesture associated with “smoking weed.”
“When you bring your two fingers ‘holding the joint’ to your mouth and pretend to take a hit, this is a sign of wanting to smoke weed,” it said. “Weed” is also a slang for marijuana.
Meanwhile, some online users who are aware of its meaning noticed Moreno’s gesture in the photo.
“Alam ba ni isk0terte ‘yung meaning ng hand gesture niya? I even saw some clips sa TikTok na him saying ‘2 joints’ saka ‘don’t panic, it’s organic…” a Twitter user shared with a grimacing emoji.
“I really want to know why Isko is so proud of this hand sign,” another online user commented.
“I’m afraid Isko’s gonna make two joints his personality once again,” a different Filipino likewise tweeted.
The city chief has previously been accused of being a gambler. He denied this in a 2021 interview and said that he did not visit a casino while in office as mayor.
He, however, admitted that he went to casinos when he was still a city councilor before.
“Nung konsehal ako, nagpupunta ako ng casino lalo na nung napa-oposisyon ako. Nung naging opposition ako, siyempre wala na akong halos resources. Meron akong nabarkadang Hapon na aking sinasamahan gabi gabi sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Maynila,” Moreno said in another interview.
“Do I go to casinos? Yes. Saan ‘yan? ‘Yung mga hotel. Ang mga hotel po may casino but it doesn’t mean you’re playing in the casino. Pero ngayon, para lang mapapanatag ang ating kababayan, hangga’t maaari, ‘ni silip, ‘ni dungaw, hindi natin ginagawa,” he added.
Others perceived Moreno’s gesture as someone “trying hard” to be noticed.
‘Two joints’ as election tandem
The city chief on Thursday denied that his hand gesture is related to drugs.
“This is not drugs. This is two joints… Isko-Doc Willie… Yorme-Ong. Chill. Don’t panic, it’s organic,” Moreno said in an ambush interview while doing the gesture.
“I mean, I always wanted to relate to our constituents. I think one of the key successes or one of the elements in leadership is you understand your people. When you understand them, then makakagawa ka ng mga polisiya na kapa-kapakinabang nang direkta sa kanila,” he added.
The mayor insisted that his hand gestures were meant to indicate the letters “Y” and “O,” which stands for “Yorme” (which means “mayor” in street slang) and “Ong,” respectively.
Physician Willie Ong is his running mate.
“Actually, it’s natural eh. We were in Cotabato [someone shouts] ‘Yorme, yorme, two joints!’ Siyempre, gusto ko naman maka-relate, ‘di ba? Nyanga (ganyan) din ako (does gesture). Then it went viral, because it’s organic. But it doesn’t mean we’re promoting illegal substance,” Moreno was quoted by another report.
He added that he will never tolerate the use of illegal substances.
When asked if he is in favor of legalizing marijuana, the city chief said that “we have to fix our system first as a government and our mindset as a citizen.”
“Anything, someday, somehow, everything, that science will prove it, as long as makikinabang ‘yung kalusugan ng isang tao, ano mang uri ng gamot na pwedeng makatulong sa kanya, na mamuhay siya, then so be it,” Moreno said.