MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko's national candidates led by vice presidential bet Willie Ong spent their second to the last campaign day in Pasig City, but instead of being welcomed by party executive vice president and Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, the slate paid a courtesy visit to a rival local candidate.
Aksyon Demokratiko president and standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso was not in the Pasig campaign due to other commitments in Manila, Ong told reporters.
"Walang plan na kasama si Mayor Isko. Ako lang at sila," he said, referring to their senatorial slate.
(There is no plan for Mayor Isko to join us here. It's just me and them.)
"Sinabi ko nga kay Yorme na pupunta kami dito, siya naman mayroon siya sa City Hall so talagang wala," he said.
(I told Yorme that we will go here since he has his own thing in City Hall so he really can't come here.)
Aksyon Demokratiko's slate usually campaigns on their own when Domagoso has other events or commitments either as Manila mayor or as a private individual, Ong said.
RECEIVED BY RIVAL CANDIDATE
Pasig Councilor Mario "Junjun" Concepcion Jr. welcomed Ong, senatorial bets Carl Balita, John Castriciones, and Samira Gutoc in Pasig as Sotto was reportedly in an engagement in Tanay, Rizal.
Concepcion is running for vice mayor against Aksyon Demokratiko member Dodot Jaworski, who Sotto personally chose to become his vice mayor.
"It's my honor na sa atin nag-courtesy call si Doc Ong dahil ako ay fan nito sa kaniyang vlog," Concepcion told reporters.
"Ako natutuwa na sa opisina ko sila nagpunta kasi mukhang very hectic yata yung schedule ng ating mayor," he said.
(It's my honor that they paid a courtesy call to me because I'm a fan of Doc Ong's vlogs... I am happy that they went to my office because it seems that the mayor's schedule is very hectic.)
Concepcion had to fill in for Sotto at the last minute after the mayor's camp supposedly told organizers that the mayor could not meet his party mates due to prior engagements.
"We actually missed Mayor Vico Sotto kasi he is part of Aksyon Demokratiko. We looked forward to seeing him and getting some strength from a very iconic Aksyon Demokratiko leader," said Balita, noting that he joined Aksyon Demokratiko because of its founder Raul Roco, and its leaders Domagoso and Sotto.
"We were looking forward to this moment, eh medyo sad sad kasi we were really expecting to meet him in person kasi sa ngayon, this is when partymates should come together and get strength from each other."
Balita said he was hoping to get several tips from Sotto, who was also once a neophyte candidate like him.
"Yung mga bagong kagaya namin, intresadong interesado kaming humingi ng tips sa kaniya," the Aksyon Demokratiko senatorial candidate said.
"Personally, I have sent some fillers na gusto ko siya makausap pero I think he's busy," he said.
After their courtesy call with Concepcion, the Aksyon Demokratiko slate proceeded to campaign at the Pasig Mega Market.
Sotto's office has yet to respond to requests for comment on why nobody from the Mayor's Office welcomed Aksyon Demokratiko members at the City Hall.
AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO CHAIRMAN APOLOGIZES
Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel Jr. apologized to Aksyon Demokratiko candidates in Pasig for the gaffe.
"Aksyon Demokratiko did not arrange the sortie but was instead spearheaded by IM Pilipinas and was coordinated at the last minute," Ramel told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
"Had we known that our national candidates will be received by an opponent of our Aksyon candidates in Pasig, I would have vociferously objected," he said.
Despite the incident, "what's more important is the warm reception that Doc Willie Ong and our senatorial candidates got from Pasigueños and that extends to Mayor Isko as well," he said.
VICO AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES' COURTESY VISITS
Sotto earlier said that he would not meddle with national politics, saying that he'd rather focus on Pasig City.
The decision has been communicated as early as last year to both Aksyon Demokratiko, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the mayor's uncle who is running for vice president and is backing the presidential bid of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Despite Mayor Sotto's refusal to officially endorse any presidential candidate, some have noted the difference in the way presidential candidates were welcomed in Pasig City.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao was the first presidential bet to visit the Pasig City Hall on February 28. The People's Champ was received by City Administrator Jeron Manzanero as Sotto was supposedly in a meeting with other city officials.
Lacson is the first 2022 presidential candidate to have a face-to-face meeting with Sotto during the official campaign period.
On March 9, Sotto had a closed-door meeting with Lacson, his uncle Sen. Sotto, his father Vic Sotto, and their staff at the city hall.
Also present in that meeting were Sen. Sotto's close friend, senatorial candidate Gringo Honasan, and Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, Sotto's political mentor and ally.
While Mayor Sotto arrived late for that meeting, he spent over an hour with the said group.
Lacson described the engagement as a "meeting of the minds," while the Pasig mayor said that he was fulfilling a "promise," but did not elaborate.
On March 20, Vice President Leni Robredo dropped by the City Hall on a Sunday where she was welcomed by Sotto, city hall officials, and even Jaworski and his wife Mikee Cojuangco.
Sotto greeted Robredo with a fist bump as soon as she entered the Mayor's Office on the 8th floor, and proceeded to their closed-door meeting with Romulo, Jaworski, Manzanero, and Pasig Councilor Corie Raymundo.
Noticeably absent from Robredo's courtesy visit with the Pasig mayor is Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, one of Sen. Sotto's rivals for the vice presidency.
Labor leader Leody De Guzman and his vice presidential candidate Walden Bello also met with Mayor Sotto on April 26.
Among those who joined their meeting with the Pasig mayor were Manzanero, senatorial bet Luke Espiritu, nominees of the PLM party-list. and Quin Cruz, one of Sotto's candidates for the city council.
Presidential race frontrunner and former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. did not pay a courtesy call to Mayor Sotto.
In November 2016, Sotto - who was still a councilor - expressed his dismay at President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to bury the remains of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"Huwag tayong magpaloko! Tama na ang historical revisionism!!! Ipaglaban ang HUSTISIYA!!! #MarcosNOTaHero," Sotto said in a tweet.
Domagoso has also yet to have an encounter with his party mate and executive vice president in the run up to the 2022 national elections.
In September 2021, Mayor Sotto skipped Domagoso's nomination as party president. His office had said that the mayor had to attend the inauguration of a new road in Pasig City.
In February 2022, Sotto denied Ramel's statement that he was among the party officials who approved Domagoso's pitch to become Aksyon Demokratiko's standard bearer.