MANILA - The head of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso’s presidential campaign on Wednesday doused speculations that Dr. Willie Ong, who will run for vice president, would be replaced.
“All systems go na sila ni Doc Willie Ong. Maraming mga nagsasabi, mga nag-speculate na baka papalitan si Doc Willie Ong ng ibang vice presidential candidate. I have to tell you, hindi mangyayari yan,” said Domagoso’s campaign manager, Lito Banayo.
(We are all systems go. Many are saying, speculating that Doc Willie Ong will be replaced as vice presidential candidate. I have to tell you, that will not happen.)
Last week, Domagoso formally announced his bid for the presidency and introduced Ong as his runningmate for the 2022 national elections.
“Desidido na kami kay Doc Willie Ong. Gustong-gusto namin ang aming pagtatandem with him. He answers a very important problem ngayong may pandemya tayo, and we will stand by that,” said Banayo.
(We are decided on Doc. Willie Ong. We really like our tandem, He answers a very important problem now that we are in a pandemic and we will stand by that.)
Ong is expected to go against President Rodrigo Duterte who also accepted his party, the PDP-Laban Cusi-led wing’s nomination.
But Banayo said the dynamics will change once bets have filed their certificates of candidacy.
“I am very confident na si Doc Willie will appeal to the electorate and he will be a very strong candidate at kayang-kayang papanalunin,” he said.
Banayo also said he does not believe that Duterte will run for Vice President.
“Sa tingin ko tatakbo si Sara whether it’s a switch or it’s going to happen by October 8, we do not know at this point in time. Mayor Sara Duterte is going to be a very serious candidate whether for president or vice president,” said Banayo.
Days after the tandem announcement, Ong formally took his oath as a member of Domagoso’s party, Aksyon Demokratiko.
A cardiologist, Ong failed to clinch a seat in the upper chamber of Congress in 2019.
“Kung magkakaroon ng unification talks o unity talks o alliance yan ay patungkol sa mga senador, senatorial candidates and possibly congressional, mga local candidates na jointly ieendorse ng kandidato namin,” he said.
(If there's going to be unification talks or unity talks, alliance it would be about senatorial candidates, and possibly congressional, local candidates jointly endorsed by our candidates.)
Meanwhile, Banayo also confirmed that several candidates are in talks with the party for the possibility of running under the Isko-Ong tandem, but nothing is confirmed yet.
Among the possible names are broadcaster Noli De Castro, lawmakers Loren Legarda, Vilma Santos-Recto, and Francis "Chiz" Escudero.
“Yung apat na pangalan na yan ay nakikipag-usap sa amin, ayaw naman naming pangunahan sila. I can say na talagang nakikipag-usap sa amin ang apat na mga yan,” he said.
(Those four names are now in talks with us, we don't want to preempt them. I can say they are in talks with us.)
Other candidates that are talking to them include Sen. Joel Villanueva and former senator JV Ejercito.
“Maaaring madagdagan ng isa o dalawa pero kasi in the process at the instance of Vice President Leni Robredo, were also trying to be part and parcel of the process of uniting the opposition. Posible na magkaroon ng guest candidates din from other political parties,” he said.
(There may be 1 or more candidate because at the instance of Vice President Leni Robredo, were also trying to be part and parcel of the process of uniting the opposition. It's possible to have guest candidates also from other political parties.)
Earlier this week, former Otso Diretso candidate Samira Gutoc and radio show host Carl Balita confirmed that they have been included in Aksyon Demokratiko’s 2022 senatorial slate.
“Sa ngayon si Sam Gutoc who represents the Muslim brothers and sister at the same time she is an educator which is very important and advocate for women’s right,” he said.
A registered nurse and midwife, Banayo said Balita’s inputs will be on health, education, OFW welfare, and MSMEs.