LGUs in the Philippines

Politicians defend Isko Moreno vs Duterte attacks

Pia Ranada
Politicians defend Isko Moreno vs Duterte attacks

DEFENDING ISKO. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice President Leni Robredo drop by a drive-thru vaccination site in Manila.


‘Criticisms about a political rival should be about their ability as a public servant and not potshots based on his past,’ says Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla

Politicians and government officials stood up for Manila Mayor Isko Moreno against the attacks of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who went along with Malacañang’s refusal to name Moreno as the mayor Duterte was targeting, hit the President’s fixation with politics in the middle of a lockdown and feared spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant.

Kung itutuon natin ang lakas natin sa pagtutulungan kaysa sa bangayan, mas marami tayong magagawa,” Robredo said in a statement on Wednesday, August 11.

(If we devote our efforts to cooperation instead of fighting, we can get more things done.)

“We should be all-in in responding to this crisis. All eyes on the surge. Let’s dig up the past some other time,” she continued, in Filipino.

‘Hindi ito isyu’

A fellow local government chief executive who was Duterte’s ally in the 2016 elections also defended Moreno.

Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, in a Wednesday Facebook post, said it was wrong to attack Moreno for his past as an actor who took on sexy roles. He didn’t name the President as Moreno’s detractor, however.

Kung ako ang tatanungin ninyo? Hindi ito isyu. (If you ask me, this is a non-issue.) What’s important is that Yorme NEVER LIED, DID NOT STEAL, KILL nor did he ever brought (sic) shame to the great people of Manila as a Public Servant,” said Remulla.

“Criticisms about a political rival should be about their ability as a public servant and not potshots based on his past or the time he was young. He was not in power back then. It’s not right to step on the past, integrity, and reputation of someone who can’t put up a fight,” said the governor in Filipino.

Remulla, in April 2016, dropped then-vice president Jejomar Binay to support Duterte, who had become the leading presidential contender by then.

Manila City government capable

Senator Ralph Recto, meanwhile, praised Moreno’s City Hall for accomplishments that, to him, proved the city was more than able to distribute national government aid, contrary to Duterte’s claims.

“The City of Manila has been delivering almost a million boxes of food to homes of their residents for some months. Hindi naman air-dropped ito. May organization, may method. Tapos papalitan?” he said.

(This isn’t air-dropped. There’s organization and method. Then you’re going to replace it?)

He cited Manila’s 344-bed field hospital in Rizal Park as further proof of the local government’s effectiveness. The field hospital was inaugurated by Moreno in June in the presence of longtime Duterte aide Senator Bong Go, who had even lauded the mayor for the facility.

“I do not know of a comparable feat done by DOH (Department of Health),” said Recto.

“It was able to build condominiums for the poor in the middle of the pandemic. Does the national government have that kind of direct shelter production it can be proud of?” added Recto, likely referring to the Tondominium housing projects currently still under construction.

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The lawmaker said it is foolish for the national government to take on tasks it had passed on to local governments who have the manpower and local knowledge.

“City hall people know the remotest corners of their area more than the central office bureaucrats,” said Recto.

‘Mayor Duterte is the disorganized one’

Progressive lawmakers at the House of Representatives also slammed Duterte for his “disgraceful” attack on Moreno.

Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc, which has been consistently critical of the government, said Duterte is the “gold-medalist in the Olympics of failed leadership during the pandemic,” and not Moreno.

“If there is a ‘mayor’ who is disorganized in its aid distribution and pandemic response, that is no one else but ‘Mayor Duterte’ himself,” said the group of lawmakers.

Despite Duterte’s order that Manila city government be prohibited from distributing lockdown cash assistance from the national government, the social welfare and interior departments on Wednesday merely sent more personnel to “supervise” the distribution being conducted by the city. – 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.