Manila Mayor to Run for President Next Year

The popular mayor of the Philippine capital said Wednesday that he will run for president in next year’s election. This means he is the latest nominee in what is expected to be a lively race to replace the controversial Rodrigo Duterte.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, a child scavenger before becoming an actor and then entering politics, told the news agency Associated Press before his public announcement that he would fight the coronavirus outbreak and long-rooted poverty and advance democracy if he won the May 9 election.

He made his intentions known in a speech at a public school in a poor area near where he grew up.

Along with him is his partner’s future vice presidential candidate, Willie Ong, a cardiologist who provides medical advice to ordinary Filipinos via Facebook with more than 16 million followers.

“With all humility, I announce to you, my fellow countrymen, next May, please accept my application as president of the Philippines. I had pulled myself out of the sewers without help.”

He says he believes in hard work and speaks frankly.

He said he was driven to run not by lofty ambitions but by the deplorable state of the country, while he criticized the response to the pandemic by the Duterte administration, including the lack of life-saving drugs to combat COVID-19.

Of the poor, he said: “We (should) give them red carpet treatment, not bureaucracy.”

While the 46-year-old mayor is expected to rely on his life story from poverty to power, Moreno will face tough national politicians and celebrities.

Two senators have declared their intention to run – international boxing star Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson, the former national police chief.

At least seven other politicians said they were considering running for president or a lower office, including Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition; Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, Sara, who is mayor of her hometown, Davao; and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Duterte’s successor will inherit major problems especially with the pandemic, a crumbling economy, long-rooted poverty, and decades of communist and Muslim insurgency. [lt/uh]

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