LIPA, Batangas- The Nacionalista Party (NP) has allowed its members to endorse any presidential candidate in the 2022 national elections, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Friday.
Nacionalista Party President Manny Villar earlier told members that it is up to the members who to back in the 2022 presidential race, Recto said in a press conference after his ONE Batangas coalition officially backed the candidacy of Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.
"Open ang Partido Nacional na suportahan kung sino man... Kung sino ang diskarte nila na tulungan na pangulo," he said.
(The Nacionalista Party is open to support anyone... It's up to members to decide who they want to help become president.)
The NP - the oldest political party in the Philippines - did not field their own candidate in the 2022 presidential race.
Villar's son, former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, is running for senator under the slate of ruling party PDP-Laban.
Former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., an NP member, is also vying for the presidency, but filed his candidacy under Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
Recto's colleagues in the Senate - Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Manny Pacquiao - are also running for president.
Recto, who heads ONE Batangas, said the province's largest political coalition decided to back Domagoso over contenders due to the Manila Mayor's performance in the capital city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Ang mga kasama ko sa Senado, lahat magaling, ang iba overqualified… Pero ang kailangan natin maging pangulo 'yung mabilis kumilos," he said.
(My colleagues in the Senate are all outstanding, some are even overqualified... But we need a president who acts quickly.)
Batangas will deliver 1 million votes for Domagoso and his slate next year, he said.
NO CALLS FOR ISKO WITHDRAWAL IN BATANGAS
Recto, meanwhile, said there are no calls in Batangas for Domagoso to withdraw from the race.
Recto gave the statement during the ONE Batangas convention in Lipa, Batangas, where all incumbent lawmakers in the province, 21 mayors and all board members officially endorsed the Manila Mayor as their presidential bet for the upcoming national elections.
Recto, a long-time senator, is running unopposed as district representative.
"Dito hindi napag-uusapan yan," Recto told reporters when asked to react to the hasthtag #WithdrawIsko, which trended on Twitter last week after Vice President Leni Robredo confirmed her presidential bid.
(We don't talk about that here.)
"Ang pangkaraniwang mamamayan sa Batangas ay walang Twitter," he said.
(Ordinary Batangueños don't have Twitter.)
"Nakikita namin dito na maraming sumusuporta kay Mayor Isko," he said.
(A lot of people here are supporters of Mayor Isko.)
In September, the city government of Lipa issued a resolution declaring Domagoso as an "adopted son" of the city.