MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko vice-presidential candidate Willie Ong was noticeably absent from their party's first sortie post-Feb. 8 in Mindanao, the bailiwick of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, one of the cardiologist's rivals for the vice presidency.
Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso and their 3 senatorial candidates joined a motorcade and attended a jam-packed sortie in Maguindanao, organized by the camp of Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, a key Moro politician who is expected to command votes in the Bangsamoro.
"Siyempre na-hurt ako. Masakit yun," Ong told ABS-CBN News weeks before Aksyon Demokratiko's 3-day sortie in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.
(Of course I was hurt. That's painful.)
"I understand where it comes from pero tiis lang ako. Wala akong complaint, go lang ako," he said in a February 9 interview.
(I understand where it comes from but I just endure it. I have no complaints, I just go forward.)
Several groups, especially from Mindanao, have committed to backing Domagoso's presidential bid, but are rooting for Duterte-Carpio, Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel said in a recent press conference.
One Cebu, the ruling party in the Philippines' most vote-rich province, has endorsed President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter for vice president and is considering endorsing Domagoso for president.
Aksyon's allies in several areas have their own reasons, but the party stands by its candidates, Ramel said when asked why the party is seemingly abandoning Ong in several campaigns.
Ong said he did not bring up the issue with the Manila mayor, saying he sees no reason in harboring resentment towards other politicians.
"Hindi ko na iniisip. Parang bahala na yung tao. Wala naman akong kasalanan. I'll just do it straight," he said.
(I don't think about it anymore. Let the people do what they want, I did not do anything wrong. I'll just do it straight.)
"I'll play it straight kasi yun ang hiningi sa akin ni Yorme so gusto ko ipakita sa inyo, sa lahat ng tao na loyal ako," he said.
(I'll play it straight because that's what the mayor asked of me so I want to show you and everyone that I am loyal.)
While his presence has been limited in Cebu and Mindanao events, Ong has been a steady staple in Domagoso's motorcades in Luzon.
The 58-year-old doctor would usually stand quietly behind Domagoso while the standard bearer climbs on top of their floats to either dance or smile for pictures as their motorcades cruise past cheering supporters.
Ong, a popular health vlogger who has 16 million followers on Facebook, would also deliver speeches in several sorties, where he underscores how his medical background can help aid the Philippine health care system during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Wala akong pera, wala akong pangalan... Sobra akong disadvantaged pero wala akong choice," he said, noting that he has refused to accept campaign donations from several camps to maintain his no-strings-attached policy.
(I don't have funds, I don't have the name... I am really at a disadvantage but I have no choice.)
"Ang style ko is hindi ako naninira... Hindi maganda sa akin ang inis-inis," he said.
(My style is I don't attack other politicians... It won't be good if I dwell on irritants.)
"Oras na maging pulitiko ako, nagkaroon na ako ng ganti-ganti dito, masama loob ko dito, masisira ang kamada," he said.
(Things will crumble if I start acting like a politician, if I harbor vendetta or ill feelings toward others.)
Domagoso earlier denied that he is abandoning his campaign with Ong as several local politicians continue to pair him with Duterte-Carpio for the May 9, 2022 elections.
"Isko-Doc Willie ako. Period," he told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
Despite his "hurt", Ong said he has no plans to quit vying for the vice presidency.
"Si Yorme nagrequest sakin na tumakbo, samahan siya. Pinili niya ako," he said.
(It was Yorme who requested for me to run, for me to join him. He chose me.)
"Wala akong reklamo. Go lang ako."
(I have no complaints. I just go forward.)