Manila city mayor Isko Moreno

Top politicians recently rallied behind Manila city mayor Isko Moreno after Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte alluded to him as being unable to control large crowds of vaccine hopefuls in his city.

Duterte, without naming Moreno in his live address, even brought up the mayor’s showbiz past and former sexy movie roles and photos when he was younger while berating him. While Malacañang denied that Duterte intended to attack Moreno in his speech, critics pointed out that Moreno is the only chief executive with the kind of past Duterte mentioned.

Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla said in a Facebook post-Wednesday that the criticism on Moreno was unfair, citing the fact that Moreno was not a public servant during his showbiz career. Remulla added that Moreno had an exceptional record as a public servant, without any having committed any grave offense.

“Criticisms about a political rival should be about their ability as a public servant and not potshots based on his past or the time he was young. He was not in power back then. It’s not right to step on the past, integrity, and reputation of someone who can’t put up a fight. Kung ako ang tatanungin ninyo? Hindi ito isyu. What’s important is that Yorme never lied, did not steal, kill, nor did he ever bring shame to the great people of Manila as a public servant,” said Remulla.

Senator Ralph Recto also lauded Moreno’s COVID-19 response efforts, which included the delivery of food and cash aid to the needy. He cited the Rizal Park 344-bed field hospital and the construction of a condominium solely intended for the poor.

“The City of Manila has been delivering almost a million boxes of food to homes of their residents for some months. Hindi naman air-dropped ito. May organization, may method. Tapos papalitan? I do not know of a comparable feat done by DOH (Department of Health),” Recto said.

Vice President Leni Robredo also stood behind Moreno. In a statement, she said that the tension between Duterte and Moreno is wasting precious time when the government could instead focus on addressing the COVID-19 crises.

“Kung itutuon natin ang lakas natin sa pagtutulungan kaysa sa bangayan, mas marami tayong magagawa. All-in dapat tayo sa pagtugon sa krisis na ito. All eyes on the surge. Saka na kayo mag-ungkatan ng past,” said Robredo.

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc, a group of lawmakers critical against the current administration, hit back at Duterte for his reportedly poor leadership amidst the pandemic. The group called Duterte’s attack on Moreno as “disgraceful.”

“If there is a ‘mayor’ who is disorganized in its aid distribution and pandemic response, that is no one else but ‘Mayor Duterte’ himself,” Makabayan said.