VP race in disarray as Sara Duterte linked to other presidential bets

DAVAO CITY Mayor Sara Duterte

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor

MANILA – The Filipino version of throwing a close associate under the bus has been happening in the vice presidential race, with one candidate admitting that he was asked by their campaign manager not to join a sortie in Mindanao last week.

During a motorcade in Davao City, cars and trucks paraded around town with Isko Moreno-Sara Duterte banners, making it appear that the Davao mayor was endorsing the Manila mayor for president, in place of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is reportedly not too popular in Mindanao.

Her father, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, had said on more than one occasion that he considered Marcos Jr. a “weak leader,” and that his followers should not vote for the son and namesake of the late dictator, who was ousted in a popular revolt 36 years ago this week.

Vice presidential bet, Dr. Willie Ong, admitted that he was “hurt” and a bit depressed when his presidential running mate, Isko Moreno Domagoso, did not stand up for him.

Speaking in the vernacular, Moreno said his camp did not invite Ong to the Davao City sortie because “we didn’t want to embarrass him.” This is because residents there already had their “preferred candidate,” meaning Sara Duterte.

Moreno’s campaign manager, Lito Banayo, admitted telling Ong to skip the Mindanao sorties as an advance team had seen Moreno-Duterte tarps all over the place.

Photos of tarpaulins and other campaign materials in Mindanao had been appearing in social media pushing for Sara Duterte to either team up with Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, and even Vice President Leni Robredo, under a “RoSa” tandem.

Rosa is the Pilipino word for pink, the color of the Robredo campaign.

Moreno, meanwhile, continued to ask President Rodrigo Duterte’s party, the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban, to endorse him as their presidential bet in the absence of an official candidate after the party earlier said Sara Duterte was their candidate for VP.

To this “request,” Pacquiao addressed Moreno, saying: “I am the president of PDP-Laban.”

Senator Koko Pimentel told Moreno it was unwise to “seek that endorsement anymore from the hijackers of the party.”

The PDP-Laban split into two camps last year, with one headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. That wing originally wanted Senator Bong Go to be their presidential bet, but the freshman senator begged off. This is the first time that a party in power has not fielded a presidential candidate in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, following a serious faux pas, the Marcos camp was forced to cancel a rally in Antique province after earlier planning to hold their event at the Evelio Javier Freedom Park in the capital town of San Jose.

The park is named after the late Evelio Javier, who was gunned down at the site on Feb 11, 1986, some two weeks before the Edsa Revolt.

Javier was a close associate of then presidential candidate Cory Aquino, while the man who ordered his assassination, Arturo Pacificador, was a top lieutenant of Ferdinand Marcos.

The son of Javier led the protestors to the Marcos rally, resulting in its cancellation.