MINDANAO TRAIL. Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso goes around Kidapawan City, Cotabato on Monday (Feb. 21, 2022). He maintained in an interview that he supports his partner, Dr. Willie Ong, even if some supporters prefer Sara Duterte for vice president. (Photo courtesy of Isko Moreno Facebook)

MANILA – Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso clarified on Tuesday that he stands by his vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Willie Ong, even if some supporters are rooting for other bets.

However, he cannot dictate on the electorate whom to vote for and he respects the people’s choices.

Ako po, Isko-Doc Willie, period. ‘Yung mga organisasyon may kanya kanya. As a candidate hindi naman natin mapipigilan kayo, ang choices ninyo, kasi hindi naman tayo two-party system katulad ng Estados Unidos. Kapag binoto ang president, panalo na ‘yung vice president (For me, its Isko-Doc Willie, period. The organizations also have their candidates. As a candidate, we cannot stop you from making your choices. We are not a two-party system like that of the United States that when a president wins, his vice president also wins). That is the sad truth of our electoral process,” Domagoso said in an ambush interview during his visit in General Santos City on Tuesday.

Social media watchers were quick to notice Domagoso-Sara Duterte posters in his Mindanao sorties.

The outgoing Manila mayor’s campaign strategist, Lito Banayo, said it was his personal decision not to bring Ong with them in BARMM, especially in Maguindanao, as the Mangudadatus have openly declared their preference for a Domagoso-Duterte tandem.

"So I called up Doc Willie, and I said, Doc, baka mas mabuti po 'wag kayong sumama sa Mindanao kasi I don't want to put you in an embarrassing situation where 'yung mga tarpaulins doon (maybe it is better if you do not join the team in Mindanao because I don't want to put you in an embarrassing situation as the tarpaulins there) are Isko-Sara," Banayo said.

Domagoso said he has high respect for Ong, whom he said is a very good person.

Maswerte ako mga kababayan. Sana makilala ninyo ng husto si Doc Willie. Napakabait, napakadisente, napakalinis ng puso if you really know him and I’m fortunate maganda ‘yung kanyang saloobin at ‘yung kanyang (I am lucky. I hope you get to know the real Doc Willie. He is so humble, decent, he has a pure heart),” he said.

He thanked the people and organizations who endorsed him and support Aksyon Demokratiko candidates.

Among them are the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee led by former Agrarian Reform Secretary and senatorial candidate John Castriciones, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al hajj Murad” Ebrahim, and the Mangudadatus of Maguindanao.

Continue to fight

In a social media post on Monday night, Ong said he would continue his run in the vice presidential race until the May 9 elections.

"Nasa akin ang bola. Tuloy tuloy hanggang May 9. Eye on the ball ako (The ball is on me. I will continue (this fight) until May 9. I am eye on the ball)," he said.

He said an alleged statement that he was hurt by the Domagoso-Duterte tandem push was issued a month ago but came out just now.

"I am focused on what needs to be done. I thank Mayor Isko for choosing me. I was able to run as a VP candidate," he said.

Ong said he has neither ill feelings nor anger in his heart as this would not help his presidential bid.

"Kailangan ko manalo para mabigay tulong sa mahihirap [para] sa gamutan, pagkain (I need to win so I could extend aid to the poor, provide them with health care and food)," he said.

He thanked those who sent messages of support, promising to focus on helping the poor and address health and other issues. (with reports from Ma. Cristina Arayata/PNA)