MANILA – The political circus in the Philippines has started in earnest and its getting colorful and heated every day as filing of certificates of candidacies open on October 1.

At press time, the latest development is the announcement that former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will seek a fresh term as congressional representative of Pampanga’s second district which covers her home town of Lubao, Sasmuan, Guagua, Floridablanca, Porac  and Sta, Rita towns next year under Lakas-NUCD prty. It will be her fourth term as congressman, eclipsing her father President Diosdado Macapagal who held the post in the old first district for six years from 1949 to 1957.

On the same day, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of late President Ferdinand Marcos, was nominated by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), once a behemoth political party, to run for president in an assembly at the Thunder Resort in Binangonanm, Rizal. KBL was founded no less by his father and had ruled the country for years.

Meanwhile, supporters of Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo continue to hold their breath as she appeared still undecided on a presidential run to banner the opposition, merely saying she was still hopeful the opposition can unite for a single candidate against the Dutertes and has been meeting with Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso, Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Robredo, a lawyer and former Naga City congresswoman and  is considered the best candidate for president by the opposition, said she is listening to the clamor for her to run a week before the filing period for certificates of candidacy. .

Earlier, early frontrunner in surveys Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte abandoned a possible presidential run and announced she would just seek reelection, which many political pundits however was actually not final and was made only to confuse the political foes.

Senator Pacquiao and Mayor Domagoso earlier declared one after the other their candidacy for president in the 2022 elections.

With the development, the presidential race is shaping as a tight one as Pacquiao and Domagoso raised to four the declared candidates, and possibly five or six if the opposition unity talks being spearhead by Robredo and 1Sambayan falters, the possible presidential candidates out to succeed President Duterte whose term ends of June 30, 2022.

Prior to Pacquiao and Domagoso’s announcement, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in tandem with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III in a Partido Reporma-Nationalist People’s Coalition alliance, launched his candidacy for president on the same day that the ruling party PDP-Laban, in a national assembly at the Laus International Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga, formally declared the nomination of Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go for president with President Duterte for vice president.

On September 19, Senator Pacquiao, backed by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and other leaders, accepted his nomination for president in the national assembly of their faction of the PDP-Laban party in Libis, Quezon City.

“I am a fighter, and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring,” the boxing icon said during his nomination speech.

“Sa ngalan ng mga kababayan natin na matagal nang naghahangad ng tamang pagbabago sa ating pamahalaan, tapat na panunungkulan at serbisyo sa mamamayang Pilipino, buong puso ko po, buong tapang at kababaang loob ay umaasa po ako sa inyong suporta (In the name of our fellow countrymen long asking for the right change in governance and true service to the Filipino people, I wholeheartedly, bravely, and humbly hope for your support.),” Pacquiao added.

During the PDP-Laban assembly, Pacquiao was given the authority to choose his running mate and members of their senatorial slate for the upcoming polls.
Pacquiao warned unscrupulous politicians. Earlier, he accused the administration of President Duterte, his former ally, of being more corrupt than its predecessor.
“Malapit na kayong magsama-sama sa kulungan [You’ll soon all end up in jail together],” he warned. “Your time is up.”

On September 22, with his Baseco housing project in Tondo where he grew up as a poor boy and “basurero” as a background, Mayor Domagoso, popularly known by his actor’s name “Isko Moreno,” declared he was seeking the presidency and introduced popular physician, Dr. Willie Ong, as his runningmate under the Aksyon Demokratiko party.

As he vowed to be a healing president and fight corruption, Domagoso, who is second to Mayor Sara in surveys,  immediately drew support from may sectors, noting how he has successfully transformed Manila in his short stay at the City Hall.

Other supporters who came out in the open for the Manila mayor are the couple Sen. Ralph Recto and Rep. Rosa Vilma Santos-Recto.

 Senator Recto said that he and his actress wife, Congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto, will support Domagoso in the presidential race.

It was gathered that Congresswoman Vilma Recto may run for senator under the Aksyon Demokratiko of Mayor Domagoso while Senator Recto will switch to being Batangas congressman.

Santos-Recto was a big star before she changed careers and became three-term mayor of Lipa City and three-term governor of Batangas. Domagoso is also an actor, popularly known as Isko Moreno.·

“Vilma and I, including our supporters in Batangas and coordinators nationwide, are supporting Mayor Isko and Dr.Willy Ong for president and vice president respectively,” Recto said.

“Mayor Isko has the training, skills, experience and leadership to be an outstanding president. He has shown this as mayor of Manila most specially during this pandemic. He is young and implements his programs quickly. He will make a good president,” the senator added.


“Sa buong buhay ko, wala akong laban na inaatrasan dahil sa ngalan ng prinsipyo, karangalan ng bayan ay tumayo ako, nanindigan at nakikipaglaban (In my entire life, I have never backed down from a fight as I stand firm in the name of principle and honor of country.), ” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao cited his life experiences and ability to relate to poor Filipinos as one of the qualities that make him fit to become President.

“Sa mga nagtatanong kung ano ang ating kakayahan, naranasan niyo na po bang magutom… walang makain… mangutang sa kapitbahay o mag abang ng tira sa karinderya?” he said.

“Alam niyo po ba ang pakiramdam ng isang Pilipino na nakikipaglaban sa boxing? Nagpapabugbog sa kalaban na mas malaki at malakas para makabili ng pagkain?”

“Ang Manny Pacquiao na nasa harap ninyo ngayon ay pinanday ng hirap… Ang Manny Pacquiao na pilit nilang pinababagsak ay ilang beses nang bumangon, nagsikap at nagtagumpay… Alam ko ang hirap na naranasan ninyo at alam kong pagod na pagod na kayong lahat,” he said.

Pacquiao vowed to fight poverty and corruption, saying Filipinos have waited too long to see progress.

“Panahon na upang manalo naman ang mga naapi. Panahon na upang makabangon ang bayan natin na lugmok sa kahirapan,(It’s time for the downtrodden to win. It’s time for our nation to rise from poverty.),” Pacquiao said.
Mayor Domagoso said he would be a “healing president”.


“I will be a healing president. While ours will be a government of national reconstruction, it will also be a government of national reconciliation, based on justice and rule of law,” he said.

If given the chance to lead the country, Domagoso promised to apply an open governance policy by accepting suggestions from all sectors.

Saying he would be open to criticisms, he promised to listen to the public to craft better policies and provide improved services.

Dr. Ong, on the other hand, said the coronavirus pandemic and the current situation of the health system promptedhim to decide and run for next year’s polls.

Once elected, he promised to improve the health system and the plight of health workers.
During his speech, Domagoso recalled how he worked as a garbage scavenger in Tondo to survive. He said he persevered and so he is in the position where he is now.
He cited his achievements in his first term as Manila Mayor, speaking of his government’s autonomy in addressing the COVID-19 crisis while pointing out the national government’s shortcomings.
Sending the message that he does what he says, Domagoso said: “I do not run on promises. I run on prototypes.”


Domagoso has been vocal about his push to “restore dignity to the poor.”

“I started working at the age of 10 bilang basurero,” said Domagoso who will turn 47 on Oct. 24..

“Instead na kaawaan ko ang sarili ko, eh di pinagbuti ko ang sarili ko. A matter of mindset,” he said.

In a minute-long video uploaded on his social media page on the eve of his campaign launch, the Manila Mayor recalled how he started earning from selling trash at a young age, and worked his way out of poverty by earning a college degree and entering public service.
It was learned that House Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo John Garcia will be Domagoso’s spokesperson for the Visayas, and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, for Mindanao.
Domagoso had veiled criticisms against the Duterte administration during his speech.

“We have used our people as guinea pigs in the useless experiment of unli-quarantines,” Domagoso said.

“Instead of flattening our curve, we have flattened our economy… Maiintindihan sana natin kung walang pondo ang DOH. Pero ang pera para sa COVID-19 binuro,” he said.