The gloves are off.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno went for Vice President Leni Robredo in a press conference on Friday, October 8, the end of a week that saw both of them filing their candidacies for president.
Moreno's anger appeared to be ignited by both the trending of #WithdrawIsko hours after Robredo declared her presidential bid and news that his remarks about Ferdinand Marcos was one factor that led Robredo to run for the top post.
"Huwag kayong malilinlang sa pagpapalitan ng kulay.... Ang tanso, tubugin man ng ginto ay tanso pa rin.... Fake leader with fake color is a fake character," said Moreno, referring to how Robredo dropped the color yellow, associated with the Liberal Party, and is now using pink.
(Don't be fooled by the change in color.... Copper, even if coated in gold, is still copper.... Fake leader with fake color is a fake character.)
But when asked which leader he was referring to, Moreno did not name Robredo. However, his description left little doubt who he was referring to.
"That can be a lot of people in the country. Kasi 'yun ang paalala ko sa kanila. Huwag silang magpekepeke-an, huwag silang all of a sudden mayroon na silang nahanap na dahilan," said the presidential bet.
(That's my reminder to them. They shouldn't be faking, they shouldn't say all of a sudden they've found a reason.)
"Marcos again? Why does our world have to revolve around the fight between Marcos and Aquino? The fight between the children of Marcos and the children and allies of the Yellowtards? Oh, it's pink already, sorry," said Moreno.
One of Moreno's and Robredo's rivals for the presidency is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., namesake and son of the late dictator.
Moreno has expressed some admiration for the late dictator but also condemned the martial law human rights abuses.
Moreno criticized Robredo for failing to unite non-administration candidates and for running as an independent candidate when she is chairperson of the Liberal Party.
"You cannot talk of unity, eh you yourself hindi mo nga ma-unify sarili mo. You are not even proud of your party, oh my god. Kung kaya mo iwanan 'yung mga kasama mo, paano pa kaming 110 million Pilipinos?" said Moreno.
(You cannot talk of unity when you yourself can't unify. You are not even proud of your party, oh my god. If you can abandon your companions, how much more us 110 million Filipinos?)
Robredo, however, has not left the Liberal Party and remains its chairperson. Her campaign team is also led mostly by LP officials. Analysts and campaign insiders say her decision to run as an independent is a strategy to attract more votes after the devastating loss of the opposition in the 2019 senatorial elections.
Moreno, who placed second in recent surveys on preferred presidential bets, also took exception to the trending of the hashtag "#WithdrawIsko" on Thursday.
The Manila mayor blames Robredo's supporters.
"Karapatan ko rin naman tumakbo diba? (It's also my right to run, right?)" he said when asked about the hashtag.
"Akala ko ba nag rarally sila ng demokrasya? Bakit yung demokrasya ba, sila lang ang may-ari? Or yung demokrasya, pinapraktis ng isang daang mahigit milyong Pilipino?" he continued.
(I thought they are rallying for democracy? Why, are they the only ones who own democracy? Or is democracy practiced by over a hundred million Filipinos?)
The stinging words from the Manila mayor are in stark contrast to his early talks with Robredo on 2022 plans. Back in June, the two even teamed up for a vaccine project in Manila, seen by many as a way of testing the waters for a possible tandem between the two. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.