Things had not gone smoothly for Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso announced his presidential bid over three weeks ago. As recently as mid-September, Domagoso was still being considered as a possible standard bearer of the opposition.

Etta Rosales, former congresswoman and retired chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, even acknowledged during an online event commemorating the 49th anniversary of Martial Law declaration that the opposition coalition 1Sambayan was “torn” at that time between Robredo and Domagoso. There was a strong clamor for a team-up between Robredo and Domagoso for the 2022 elections and the two camps confirmed having several meetings.

Despite the hype, this “dream team” of the opposition never materialized, and now the Robredo and Domagoso camps are on warpath. The first sign of a crack between what was thought to be an ideal tandem showed when Domagoso not just announced his presidential bid but also named Doctor Willie Ong as a running-mate.

That indicated that he is already walking away from the negotiations since that would require him to be open to not pursuing a presidential candidacy or at least, to leave open the possibility of having Robredo as running-mate. Given that Domagoso was initially seen (and positioned himself, too) as an alternative presidential candidate for the opposition, his succeeding words and actions after he announced his presidential bid had been dumbfounding.

Isko Moreno for president 2022
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s presidential campaign has not been off to a good start. (Credits: Isko Moreno’s Facebook page)

There’s his declaration about being open to giving President Rodrigo Duterte a cabinet position if he becomes President. He also gave neither-here-nor-there responses about issues that are non-negotiables for opposition-leaning voters like supporting the ongoing investigation of the International Criminal Court on the Duterte administration’s War on Drugs, the plight of Senator Leila de Lima, backing the bid of ABS-CBN to have a new franchise, as well as a definitive stance against prosecuting the Marcos family.

The last issue has been cited by Robredo as a big factor why she ultimately decided to run for President instead of just seeking a local post in her home province Camarines Sur. In response to Robredo’s ill-advised remark, Domagoso mocked the opposition, including the failed campaign of the “Otso Diretso” senatorial ticket in 2019. Domagoso was seemingly oblivious to the fact that two of his partymates in Aksyon Demokratiko, Samira Gutoc (who is running again) and Florin Hilbay, were part of that team.

Conventional wisdom, as reflected in the presidential surveys, suggests that the opposition stands a better chance of winning if Robredo and Moreno join forces. However, as things stand now, it will likely take a miracle for a unification to happen since the two camps are already engaged in a full blown word war.

And while Robredo and Domagoso’s camps together with their supporters are duking it out, there’s Bongbong Marcos probably eating popcorns and sipping tea somewhere in Ilocos Norte. Unless Sara Duterte decides to run, Marcos’ path to the presidency is clear. As for Isko, he might end up regretting essentially handing his seat as Manila Mayor on a silver platter to someone whose father has long sought to lead it.

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