Manila Mayor and presidential aspirant Isko Moreno just spent his three-day sojourn in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato basking in the welcome of Isko-Sara supporters. Moreno’s running mate, Doc Willie Ong, was noticeably absent from the party although he has always been present at campaigns in Luzon. And since it looks like Moreno has no qualms about being paired with Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the Internet is doing the talking for Ong.
Mayor Isko Moreno and Mayor Sara Duterte tandem?
It’s all over social media — Moreno’s motorcade going around Mindanao with tarps endorsing an Isko-Sara tandem. But ICYDK, the Manila mayor’s actual running mate is Aksyon Demokratiko vice-presidential candidate Doc. Willie Ong. To make matters a bit more awkward for everyone, Ong wasn’t present during the sortie.
Why was Doc Willie Ong left out?
Willie Ong agreed to skip Isko’s events in Maguindanao after being told by campaign manager Lito Banayo that the mayor’s supporters there are already pro-Sara Duterte.@rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/mIKomq1XPG
— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 21, 2022
All the other presidential and vice-presidential tandems are going around the country in pairs besides Moreno and Ong. Why? The VP bet’s absence was actually a personal decision of the Manila mayor’s presidential campaign manager Lito Banayo, who knew most of the supporters in the islands are vying for the Isko-Sara team-up. Banayo explained to Ong that he could be put in an awkward and embarrassing situation since most of the streamers and tarpaulins are for Moreno and Duterte-Carpio.
“[The advanced party] called me up and they said, ‘Boss, puro streamers dito, Isko-Sara,’ tarpaulins, puro Isko-Sara,” Banayo told ANC. “So I called up Doc Willie, and I said, Doc, baka mas mabuti po ‘wag kayong sumama sa Mindanao kasi I don’t want to put you in an embarrassing situation where ‘yung mga tarpaulins doon is Isko-Sara.”
Meanwhile, Moreno told reporters that Ong couldn’t make it to the three-day sortie “due to a scheduled interview in Quezon City.”
Visayas and Mindanao groups endorse the tandem
Doc. Willie Ong initially expressed hurt…
Ong also said that his “personal style” has never been to defame others. He’s not the type to hold grudges. So instead of wasting time looking into the matter, he would rather campaign for his vice presidential bid.
…But he isn’t angry
Ong posted a short video on Facebook to clarify that the statements going around social media about him being “hurt” was made before this recent Isko-Sara issue. He also expressed his gratitude toward the Manila mayor for choosing him as running mate. “Para sa’kin kasi focus lang ako sa kailangan kong gawin eh, diba?” said the doctor. “Salamat kay Mayor Isko pinili niya ako, nakatakbo tayo bilang vice president. Pero ngayon, nasakin na yung bola eh. So tuloy tuloy tayo hanggang May 9, walang atrasan to.”
“Eye on the ball ako eh. Kailangan ko manalo kasi kailangan ko maibigay yung tulong sa mahihirap, sa gamutan, sa pagkain,” he adds. “Wala akong galit sa puso ko kasi hindi s’ya makakatulong. Sa politika, away-away. ‘Pag pinasok mo yung galit sa puso mo, dun na masisira yung kamada, maiiba yung focus mo.”
Netizens are disappointed with Mayor Isko
o n g s a k e t 🥲 pic.twitter.com/kWdnmI4CiM
— Tarantadong Kalbo (@KevinKalbo) February 21, 2022
For many folks on the Internet, Moreno not bringing Ong with him to campaigns is a huge red flag. Add that to the fact that the pick-up truck he did the motorcade with was decorated with Isko-Sara posters. It left many questioning where his loyalties lie. Many saw this as a “big slap to Ong’s face.”
What does Mayor Isko have to say for all this?
As for Ong, he has faith in the Mayor. He shared it was Moreno who initially convinced him to run as vice president. “Pinili niya ako,” said the doctor, defending his running mate. “Wala akong reklamo. Go lang ako.”
Fulfilling his duty
Even if posters and tarps of Isko-Sara flood the streets of Mindanao, Ong insists he will fulfill his duty to the end. “I’ll play it straight kasi yun ang hiningi sa akin ni Yorme so gusto ko ipakita sa inyo, sa lahat ng tao na loyal ako,” he said during an interview.
Ong’s goal has always been to help the Philippines and its healthcare system with his medical background. He has a YouTube channel where almost 7 million subscribers benefit from free medical advice. He says he doesn’t have time for political grudges and greed.
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