By ALFRED GABOT
Editor in Chief
MANILA/QUEZON CITY – As early frontrunner in surveys Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte abandoned a possible presidential run and announced she would just seek reelection as mayor, Senator and world boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso declared one after the other their candidacy for president in the 2022 elections in their separate proclamation rallies in Makati City and in Tondo, Manila.
The development indicated that the presidential race is shaping up a tight one as Pacquiao and Domagoso raised to four the officially declared candidates, and the field could possibly expand to five or six if the opposition unity talks being spearhead by Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo and 1Sambayan falters in the search for one candidate out to succeed President Duterte whose term ends of June 30, 2022.
Prior to Pacquiao and Domagoso’s announcement, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in tandem with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III in a Partido Reporma-Nationalist People’s Coalition alliance, launched his candidacy for president on the same day that the ruling party PDP-Laban, in a national assembly at the Laus International Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga, formally declared the nomination of Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go for president with President Duterte for vice president.
On September 19, Senator Pacquiao, backed by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and other leaders, accepted his nomination for president in the national assembly of their faction of the PDP-Laban party in Libis, Quezon City.
“I am a fighter, and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring,” the boxing icon said during his nomination speech.
“Sa ngalan ng mga kababayan natin na matagal nang naghahangad ng tamang pagbabago sa ating pamahalaan, tapat na panunungkulan at serbisyo sa mamamayang Pilipino, buong puso ko po, buong tapang at kababaang loob ay umaasa po ako sa inyong suporta (In the name of our fellow countrymen long asking for the right change in governance and true service to the Filipino people, I wholeheartedly, bravely, and humbly hope for your support.),” Pacquiao added.
On September 22, with his Baseco housing project in Tondo where he grew up as a poor boy and “basurero” as a background, Mayor Domagoso, popularly known by his actor’s name “Isko Moreno,” declared he was seeking the presidency and introduced social media popular physician, Dr. Willie Ong, as his runningmate under the Aksyon Demokratiko party.
As he vowed to be a healing president and fight corruption, Domagoso, who is second to Mayor Sara in surveys, immediately drew support from may sectors, noting how he has successfully transformed Manila in his short stay at the City Hall.
Other supporters who came out in the open for the Manila mayor are the couple Sen. Ralph Recto and Rep. Rosa Vilma Santos-Recto.
Senator Recto said that he and his actress wife, Congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto, will support Domagoso in the presidential race.
It was gathered that Congresswoman Vilma Recto may run for senator under the Aksyon Demokratiko of Mayor Domagoso while Senator Recto will switch to being Batangas congressman.
Santos-Recto was a big star before she changed careers and became three-term mayor of Lipa City and three-term governor of Batangas. Domagoso is also an actor, popularly known as Isko Moreno.
“Vilma and I, including our supporters in Batangas and coordinators nationwide, are supporting Mayor Isko and Dr.Willy Ong for president and vice president respectively,” Recto said.
“Sa buong buhay ko, wala akong laban na inaatrasan dahil sa ngalan ng prinsipyo, karangalan ng bayan ay tumayo ako, nanindigan at nakikipaglaban (In my entire life, I have never backed down from a fight as I stand firm in the name of principle and honor of country.), ” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao cited his life experiences and ability to relate to poor Filipinos as one of the qualities that make him fit to become President.
“Sa mga nagtatanong kung ano ang ating kakayahan, naranasan niyo na po bang magutom… walang makain… mangutang sa kapitbahay o mag abang ng tira sa karinderya?” he said.
“Alam niyo po ba ang pakiramdam ng isang Pilipino na nakikipaglaban sa boxing? Nagpapabugbog sa kalaban na mas malaki at malakas para makabili ng pagkain?”
“Ang Manny Pacquiao na nasa harap ninyo ngayon ay pinanday ng hirap… Ang Manny Pacquiao na pilit nilang pinababagsak ay ilang beses nang bumangon, nagsikap at nagtagumpay… Alam ko ang hirap na naranasan ninyo at alam kong pagod na pagod na kayong lahat,” he said.
Pacquiao vowed to fight poverty and corruption, saying Filipinos have waited too long to see progress.
“I will be a healing president. While ours will be a government of national reconstruction, it will also be a government of national reconciliation, based on justice and rule of law,” he said.
If given the chance to lead the country, Domagoso promised to apply an open governance policy by accepting suggestions from all sectors.
Saying he would be open to criticisms, he promised to listen to the public to craft better policies and provide improved services.
Dr. Ong, on the other hand, said the coronavirus pandemic and the current situation of the health system promptedhim to decide and run for next year’s polls.
Domagoso has been vocal about his push to “restore dignity to the poor.”
“I started working at the age of 10 bilang basurero,” said Domagoso who will turn 47 on Oct. 24..
“Instead na kaawaan ko ang sarili ko, eh di pinagbuti ko ang sarili ko. A matter of mindset,” he said.
“We have used our people as guinea pigs in the useless experiment of unli-quarantines,” Domagoso said.