Isko Moreno

Isko Moreno defies Duterte: Jabs in Manila continue ‘come hell or high water’

Pia Ranada
Isko Moreno defies Duterte: Jabs in Manila continue ‘come hell or high water’

IN MANILA. Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso gestures as he delivers his State of the City Address at the Manila City Hall on Thursday, July 15, 2021.


'Alam na natin kung sino palpak, alam na natin kung sino yung pabaya, alam na natin kung sino yung puro ngawa,' says the Manila mayor, without naming names

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, without once mentioning President Rodrigo Duterte, declared vaccinations in his city would continue through storms and floods, even after the Chief Executive expressed disapproval for this in his State of the Nation Address.

Moreno, in a speech aired on his Facebook account on Tuesday, July 27, also took several swipes at the national government, without mentioning specific agencies or officials.

“We have a clear objective. In Manila, we continue to vaccinate come hell [or] high water. An objective or goal must be achieved no matter what,” he said, speaking directly at the camera.

In his SONA, Duterte said he disagreed with people being made to line up for hours in floods, something he saw in a photo shown to him during a pandemic task force meeting and in a news report he watched. The photo shown was of the vaccine queue in San Andres Sports Complex, which is in Moreno’s jurisdiction, Manila City.

The President did not name Moreno in his speech.

Moreno appeared to allude to these remarks, saying that certain people were making remarks just to distract the public from their “incompetence.”

Mas marami silang sinasabing ibang bagay to create smokescreen. Ang ibig pong sabihin ng smokescreen ay ‘yan ay para malito yung mga tumitingin, para lumabo ang mga mata ninyo. Kaya gagawa sila ng mga salita para ‘yun ang mga mapansin, mawala ang direction sa kapalpakan ng iilang tao,” said the mayor.

(They are saying more things to create smokescreen. Smokescreen means something to confuse the viewer, so that your eyes will become blurry. They will make words so that you don’t notice the incompetence of some people.)

He then posed the question, how did the feared Delta variant enter the Philippines?

Ang susunod na niyan, lambda o tau gamma o kung anuman – lahat na siguro ng fraternity niyan eh pwede nang pumasok sa bansa. Kung sino nagpabaya, papanagutin natin, ‘di ba,” he said.

(What comes next is lambda or tau gamma or whatever – all the fraternities will enter the country. Whoever was negligent, we will hold accountable.)

Huwag na tayo magturo. Alam na natin kung sino palpak, alam na natin kung sino yung pabaya, alam na natin kung sino yung puro ngawa,” the mayor added.

(Let’s not point fingers. We know who is a failure, we know who was negligent, we know who is all words.)

Officials sleeping in on weekends

The mayor of the nation’s capital tried to justify why he thinks vaccinations must push through even if residents would be forced to go through floods and rain.

“My question is, will COVID-19 stop when it rains? Does COVID-19 stop when it’s Saturday?”

Moreno then poked fund at government officials who don’t work on weekends, contrasting them to the personnel of Manila’s health office who work Saturdays and Sundays to staff vaccination centers.

Linggo, titigil ba si COVID-19? Naku, hindi rin nagtrabaho yung mga gobyerno na ‘yun. Natutulog sila kung saan masarap ang buhay nila,” said Moreno.

(Sunday, will COVID-19 stop? Those people in government don’t work on Sundays. They sleep where their life is good.)

The mayor then praised Manileños who “listened” to him and endured floods and rain to line up for their COVID-19 jab.

He blamed the Manila floods on decades of poor planning.

Moreno made other small asides seeming to allude to the Duterte administration. When he congratulated Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, he praised her for withstanding “remarks made at her by some people who are even in government.”

He also said he had to research effective plans for Manila to adopt because he “wasn’t hearing any plans from some people.”

Moreno is seen as a possible challenger to a Duterte-Duterte 2022 tandem after placing second in a recent survey on preferred presidential and vice-presidential candidates – right after the President himself and his daughter Sara Duterte.  –

Pia Ranada

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