Who is Doc Willie Ong, Isko Moreno's VP?

Presidential bet and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno threw a curveball when he chose cardiologist and internist Dr. Willie Ong as his running mate in the 2022 elections.

Ong, who turns 58 in October, is no political heavyweight, not a scion of a prominent clan, not an incumbent government official.

But he's not a political newcomer either. Ong ran for senator in 2019 and made a surprisingly good showing.

Though he placed 18th overall, Ong garnered the second highest number of overseas votes for senator. He was beaten by only Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa who placed 5th overall and benefited from mainstream media exposure and voter awareness owing to his time as Duterte's first police chief.

Analysts attributed Ong's good performance to his huge social media following. Ong is well known online for his health and medical tips which he dispenses through highly personable and approachable videos on Facebook and YouTube.

Ong shares everything from medical advice related to COVID-19 and vaccines, to tips for reducing belly fat.

The verified "Doc Willie Ong" Facebook page has 16 million followers. Another page, "Dr. Willie Ong's Health Tips" has 2.2 million followers.

Ong’s Youtube account, which also shares videos featuring his wife doctor Analiza Ong, has 6.52 million subscribers.

Positions on key issues

In the 2019 elections, Ong ran for senator under Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD). His participation in media-hosted debates and townhalls showed where he stands on certain issues.

He advocated for easier and cheaper access to medicine, treatment, and medical advice for Filipinos. He also pushed for free maintenance medicine, and laboratory tests. He said he is open to legalizing medical marijuana.

But Ong also took on positions that mirror those of President Rodrigo Duterte's. Ong said he is open to the reimposition of the death penalty for heinius crimes. He favors the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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