Pasig vice mayor admits to being 'underdog' in 2022 mayoralty bid vs Vico Sotto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2021 01:09 AM

MANILA - Pasig City Vice Mayor Iyo Bernardo on Tuesday confirmed that he will be challenging incumbent Mayor Vico Sotto in the 2022 elections, calling himself an "underdog" in the mayoralty race.

Bernardo answered in the affirmative when asked if he is "daunted" by the accolades and support Sotto has garnered in his first term as city mayor.

"I am aware of that and I think that's part of the challenge," Bernardo told ABS-CBN News.

"I know that I will be an underdog in this campaign. I guess I will just leave my fate to the people and let them decide," he said.

Bernardo ran unopposed for vice mayor in 2019 with former Pasig Mayor Bobby Eusebio as his partner. Sotto won the midterm elections, ending the nearly 3-decade rule of the Eusebio dynasty in Pasig.

"I'm not here to criticize the current administration. I just want to offer an option doon sa mga kababayan natin (to our constituents)," he said.

When asked about what he plans to offer that Sotto has yet to include in his list of services for Pasigueños, Bernardo said: "I will be a hands-on mayor."

"I get to talk to each and every constituent, whoever I get to see. I do want to know how they are living, their living condition, if their living condition is conducive to them," he said.

"I also want to know how the city government can help in whatever capacity they can," he said.

Bernardo said the COVID-19 pandemic helped him realize that there is still a big gap between the affluent and impoverished districts of Pasig, the Philippines' 4th richest city.

"I want to implement programs that would make changes... just to bridge the gap," he said.

Bernardo, the grandson of the late Pasig Mayor Emiliano Caruncho Jr., has been in office for 23 years.

He started his political career in 1998 as a Sangguniang Kabataan official, was eventually elected councilor and vice mayor.

Among the policies Bernardo plans to push for should he win the mayoralty race next year include financial assistance to students, and tax incentives for businesses hiring Pasig residents.

When asked why he did not enact these measures during his 2 decades in government, Bernardo said: "Our job description is to draft ordinances."

"I want to be able to implement projects... I want to be hands on with the projects I am thinking about." 

Bernardo, an ally of the Eusebios, has consumed 3 consecutive terms in office, the term limit for local elected officials.

CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

Bernardo was among the Pasig officials who were face graft cases in 2019 over a P25-million financial assistance given to a Camarines Sur town allegedly for the failed congressional bid of then-Mayor Bobby Eusebio's wife in the May 2019 elections.

Tambuli ng Mamamayan ng Pasig Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization composed of Pasig City residents, questioned why Eusebio’s wife Maribel Andaya-Eusebio awarded the multi-million check to Pamplona town, a sister city of Pasig.

“Customarily, the check should have been awarded by the mayor, any elected official of Pasig city, the city treasurer or any legitimate official of Pasig City,” the complainants said.

"However, in order to advance her political designs, it was respondent Maribel Andaya-Eusebio, the wife of Mayor Robert “Bobby” Eusebio, who turned over the P25-million check."

Bernardo brushed off the allegations, saying his "conscience is clean."

"Every allegation has a forum. Ours was brought to the Ombudsman," he said.

"I am not here to answer for the former mayor but if there are cases, they can file it sa proper courts and let the proper courts decide," he said.

"If they can prove that i corrupted a few millions here and there, they can try to prove it, but my conscience is clean."

BERNARDO'S SLATE

Bernardo confirmed that his vice mayoral candidate would by Ian Sia, a lawyer and former Pasig City councilor.

The vice mayor said they would field 5 councilor aspirants for district 1 and another 5 bets for district 2.

Bernardo acknowledged that the 2022 elections would be more challenging compared to precious polls when he ran as a local administration candidate.

"My edge is that people see me almost everyday... I've been here since 1997 and my lolo has tried to help as much people as possible from Pasig," he said.

"At the end of the day, it will be the voters who will decide if they want to try the programs that I want. If they wanna see a mayor who goes around our loobans (alleys)," he said.

"But if they are satisfied already, there's no questions asked," he said.

Watch more News on iWantTFC