Malacanang has denied that President Rodrigo Duterte attacked Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso, who is touted as a candidate for the presidential elections next year, when the former questioned the moral ascendancy of someone who has “sexy photos” to lead the country.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the denial when asked why the President made the statement when he had appointed Moreno as undersecretary for the Department of Social Welfare and Development back in 2018.
“I don’t know why you are bringing up the name of Isko Moreno. I don’t know that he was the one doing sexy poses,” Roque told a reporter who asked the question.
During Monday night’s Talk to the People, Duterte said in Tagalog: “Filipinos should not be fooled with theatrics… I saw it on Facebook, that bikini wearing, peeking at his private part. Is that what you want? Somebody whose training is like a call boy? A training for a president who strips naked and is photographed boasting about his private parts?”
Duterte did not mention names, but Domagoso is a former model for undergarments and an actor, popularly known as Isko Moreno, long before he was elected to public office.
The Manila mayor is ranking second to third in pre-election polls on possible 2022 presidential bets.
Pressed on why the President was commenting on the morals of a public official when Duterte himself admitted to molesting their household help when he was a teenager, Roque skirted the question and instead said Duterte never posed for a sexy photo.
Roque also said he did not know if the President was referring to Manila when he stripped one local government of its role to distribute cash aid to poor families for the alleged lack of organization.
The spokesman said he is not privy to the identity of the Metro Manila mayor whose power to distribute the financial aid was taken away.
“Again, I do not know if the President was alluding to Manila,” he said.
Roque, however, said that Duterte’s decision against the local chief executive in Metro Manila was based on the photos that showed the chaotic vaccination rollout in the city.
He said Duterte merely wants to avoid the possible spike in COVID-19 cases in one of the cities in Metro Manila being led by the mayor with a “disorganized mind.”
Asked how the appointment of Mocha Uson, a former sexy performer, as assistant secretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office and later as deputy administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration did not run counter to the President’s call for moral ascendancy, Roque said he was not aware of the entertainer-turned-vlogger’s past.
“The issue being raised is the moral ascendancy of the person to lead. Mocha Uson was appointed but I don’t really know about her past. The President gave her a second chance and she took advantage of it,” Roque said.
The spokesperson also denied the President stripped the Manila local government of authority to distribute cash aid to lockdown-affected communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to its supposed incompetence.
In the middle of all this, Domagoso said Manila had P1.4 billion for its constituents during the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Domagoso said Manila had found the money needed to ensure that all families who got the cash aid under the social amelioration program in May would also get the same kind of help during this ECQ.
A total of P1,488,630,000 was downloaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to Manila last week.
Domagoso said he was thankful to the national government for the financial assistance to cushion the impact of the ECQ on Manilans.
Last April, Domagoso said Manila received from the national government P1,523,278,000 in cash aid, which was bigger from the amount they got last week.
Because of this, Domagoso said 8,662 families would be able to receive P4,000 each, keeping 43,000 mouths from going hungry.
To complement the downloaded amount, the Manila mayor said he instructed Manila Social Welfare Department Chief Re Fugoso to seek more funding to cover the P35-million difference.
He said they wanted to ensure that all 380,820 families who received the SAP cash aid last time would also get financial assistance this time.
Domagoso also welcomed the Certificate of Recognition given by Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano last June 30 for Manila’s swift distribution of the national government’s financial aid under SAP.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government acknowledged the efficient and timely completion of the distribution of cash aid or “ayuda” to Manila residents despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The “ayuda” was 100 percent disbursed way ahead of the deadline given by the national government, the mayor noted.