MANILA, Philippines – John Castriciones, a former member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet and head of a national pro-Duterte volunteer group, joined the senatorial slate of presidential candidate Isko Moreno.
This was confirmed on Thursday, February 24, by Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel, who called Castriciones a “welcome addition to the team” of the incumbent Manila mayor.
Castriciones, however, is not a member of Moreno’s party, Aksyon Demokratiko, and has publicly declared support for the vice-presidential bid of Sara Duterte, not Moreno’s running mate and Aksyon member Willie Ong.
Thus, he is considered a “guest [candidate] but exclusive to Mayor Isko and no other presidential candidates,” said Ramel.
Moreno, since his declaration of a presidential bid in September, has said he does not want to have “shared” senatorial candidates with other presidential bets as this would be “tantamount to fooling the people.”
Castriciones joins Moreno’s three senatorial bets – Marawi City civic leader Samira Gutoc, nurse and educator Carl Balita, and lawyer and former local official Jopet Sison.
Former vice president Noli de Castro was also supposed to have been a member of the Aksyon slate but he withdrew his candidacy for “personal reasons.”
A Duterte man
Castriciones had served as Duterte’s agrarian reform secretary since the end of 2017. Before that, he was an undersecretary in the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
In the 2016 elections, Castriciones led a nationwide group that helped bring Duterte’s presidential campaign to different parts of the country. This group, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), is now backing Moreno’s presidential bid.
MRRD-NECC made its manifestation of support for Moreno only five days before.
MRRD-NECC also supports Sara Duterte for vice president, making it a major proponent of a push for an Isko-Sara tandem.
Castriciones’ experience as agrarian reform secretary has shaped his agriculture-centered platform.
“He will not only bring his integrity, experience, and knowledge in helping out our farmers who are one of those closest to Mayor Isko Moreno’s heart,” said Ramel.
Moreno, in his speeches in campaign sorties, has frequently said food security is the “number one threat to national security.” Modernizing the agricultural sector and ensuring farmers get adequate income is part of his 10-point economic platform.
“We are sure Secretary Castriciones will provide more credence to Mayor Isko’s platform of ensuring food security for the Filipinos and a better life to our farmers,” said Ramel. – Rappler.com