'99 pct' of IM Pilipinas volunteers staying with Isko: official

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2022 06:43 PM | Updated as of Apr 13 2022 08:23 AM

IM Pilipinas officials hold a press conference in Quezon City on April 12, 2022 denying that majority of its volunteers have abandoned the presidential thcampaign of Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso. Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News
IM Pilipinas officials hold a press conference in Quezon City on April 12, 2022 denying that majority of its volunteers have abandoned the presidential campaign of Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso. Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Nearly all volunteers of the Ikaw Muna Pilipinas (IM Pilipinas) group still back the presidential bid of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, its spokesperson and new secretary general said Tuesday, hours after the defection of several ranking members. 

Of the IM Pilipinas' 18 chapters, only 3 leaders and several members of the secretariat shifted their support to the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo, Philip Piccio said in a press conference hours after he replaced Elmer Argano as secretary general.

"Galit ang mga kausap namin [na members] because they feel hurt by what they did," Piccio said.

(The members we are talked to are angry.)

"We are intact and until today 99 percent of our political officers are staying with Yorme Isko Moreno," he said.

Only the Cebu and Zamboanga chapters have changed allegiance, and while the leader of IM Pilipinas in Nueva Ecija also left, the members did not join the shift to Robredo, he said.

"The rest nahirapan din sila to convince kasi Isko fanatics 'yung iba," he said.

(They found it hard to convince the rest because some are Isko fanatics.) 

"They really believe in Isko. Whatever survey you show them, they won't believe it. They just believe in Isko," he said.

In Pulse Asia's March 2022 pre-election survey, Robredo gained 9 percentage points from her previous score. Her 24-percent rating, though, is still second to Marcos' 56 percent, which is 4 percentage points lower than his February score.

Domagoso settled at third place with 8 percent, followed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao with 6 percent, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson with 2 percent.

Officials who left IM PIlipinas include former NaISKO overall coordinator Thomas Orbos, Nueva Ecija head Rey Sarmiento, and Argano.

Aksyon Demokratiko member Ed Cojuangco also tendered his resignation from the party before joining the jump to Robredo's campaign.

"There is no division. There are just people who wanted to go to the other camp," Piccio said.

"They believe she (Robredo) will win so we have to be there. Walang faction sa amin (we have no faction). We have always been united in IM Pilipinas," he said.

Piccio questioned the motive of Orbos' group, noting that the former IM Pilipinas officials are still using their old logo, making it appear that all of Domagoso's volunteers have switched sides.

"Why call for a press con? What is your intention? What do you intend to accomplish by calling a press con?" Piccio said.

"That’s why we have to react. They do not speak on our behalf. They are just a minute portion of IM Pilipinas," he said.

Piccio said Orbos' group also tried to convince him to abandon the Manila mayor in favor of the Vice President, which he rejected.

"I stand for integrity and loyalty," Piccio said. "IM Pilipinas is a large organization throughout. Hindi pa siya (Domagoso) tumatakbo, nandoon na kami." 

(We were already there, even before he decided to run for president) 

"I cannot in my conscience… na iiwanan nila ang isang tao na pinili namin base sa desisyon ng lahat ng miyembro at that time. We consulted the members. It was a process."

(I cannot in my conscience abandon a person that we chose based on the decision of all members at that time.) 

IM Pilipinas is Domagoso's largest supporter group, which has been urging the Manila Mayor to run for president long before he filed his certificate of candidacy for president in October 2021.

The 203,000-strong group is neither paid nor directly under the control of Domagoso's campaign team.

Despite the defection of several members, IM Pilipinas still boasts of some 30,000 people in Bulacan, and 24,000 volunteers in Pampanga, among other provinces, Piccio said.

The morale of IM Pilipinas remains "so strong," he said.

"From Cagayan all the way down to Mindanao, they will be calling their own press cons in their respective areas to take negate the action taken by some of our members," he said.

"We are still going strong... Our decision is to move on, fight on."