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Why Isko Moreno Picked Willie Ong as His Vice President

No last-minute substitutes, his campaign strategist says.
by Pia Regalado
Sep 22, 2021
Photo/s: Handout

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno picked social media's favorite doctor, Willie Ong, as his running mate to have a partner who has the health background to help him deal with COVID-19, his campaign strategist said Wednesday.

Moreno is hoping to replicate his dynamic with Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, who is also a doctor, said veteran strategist Lito Banayo. Manila has one the capital regions biggest vaccine rollouts and recently led in the distribution of lockdown aid or ayuda.

"He told Doc Willie that, you know, if it had not been for the fact that my vice mayor (Dr. Honey Lacuna) in Manila is a medical practitioner, I would not have been able to move quickly, prepare my city for the pandemic. But because she is a medical professional, she advised me and I followed," Banayo told ANC, recalling a meeting between the running mates.

"You can do more if you are within the system because within the system, you can highlight the need for bigger health budget, we can prioritize health lalo ngayon may pandemic," Moreno told Ong, according to Banayo.

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Mayor Isko Moreno is Running for President, His Office Says

Who Is Doctor Willie Ong, Isko Moreno's VP Running Mate

Ong was initially at the top of Moreno's list of senatorial candidates. The doctor, who has 16 million followers on Facebook, failed to crack the Senate winners' circle of 12 in the 2019 elections.

The doctor was hesitant to run, Banayo said. By Ong's request, Moreno's camp did a survey in Mega Manila to prove that Ong could help to the Manila mayor's bid for the presidency.

The study showed 90% know who Ong is, and the numbers rose when asked if the doctor can help Moreno as an endorser, then as his VP, the campaign strategist said. 

On Sept. 15, they sealed the deal at the Manila City hall, Banayo said. There will be no last-minute substitutions.

"Once he (Moreno) makes up his mind, he sticks to it. That's a done deal. Doc Willie is our vice presidential candidate."

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