A group led by one of Rodrigo Duterte’s closest associates who convinced him to run for president in 2016 last week joined a growing number of Davao residents calling for an Isko Moreno-Sara Duterte-Carpio team up.

Former Agrarian Reform secretary John Castriciones, who was among Duterte’s closest confidantes, led officials and members of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) in endorsing Moreno.

President Duterte said over the weekend that he had not yet decided whom he would endorse, or even if he would endorse any presidential candidate at all.

The President, however, admitted that he had been approached by representatives of at least two presidential bets seeking his support but did not identify the pair.

One of those bets is certain to be Moreno, who has been actively seeking the President’s support despite their having had an ugly exchange last year, when Duterte even called the former actor a “call boy.”

The MRRD-NECC is the same core group that convinced Duterte to run for president despite the then Davao City mayor’s lack of a national following, not to mention the absence of resources needed to mount a presidential campaign.

The MRRD-NECC worked with PDP-Laban to convince Duterte to run against more popular candidates like Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay.

The pro-Duterte group handed Moreno their manifesto of support at the candidate’s headquarters in Intramuros in the capital city of Manila late last week.

MRRD-NECC President Castriciones said he believed Moreno “is the most qualified candidate that should be supported” by the organization, and who therefore should be endorsed as the next president.

The MRRD-NECC is composed of members who held Cabinet posts in the Duterte administration. Their manifesto cited Moreno’s “accomplishments as Manila mayor since 2019” as well as the former actor’s “willingness to serve the country.”

Castriciones told local media, “We believe that all he has done in Manila, he would also do to our country.”

Under a Moreno presidency, “the continuity of the projects and programs of the Duterte administration” was assured, according to Castriciones.
Moreno said the endorsement of the MRRD-NECC was the biggest one he had received so far.
Castriciones is among the Duterte Cabinet members who resigned in order to run for the Senate. He appealed to Moreno to support farmers, especially during the pandemic and to continue the government’s land distribution program.

Moreno, who does not use his real name Domagoso, told the group that he would continue the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program. He said he would also erect more schools, hospitals, and public housing projects.

The 47-year-old Moreno is currently serving his first term as mayor of the capital city of Manila.

Moreno-Duterte and, in some cases, Robredo-Duterte and Pacquiao-Duterte tarps and banners have been appearing all over Mindanao but it is the Davao City mayor’s team up with the Manila mayor that has gained more traction.

The Pacquiao-Duterte team up is also popular as the legendary Filipino boxer is from General Santos City and remains a popular figure to most Filipinos.

The team-up with incumbent Vice-president Leni Robredo, on the other hand, also makes sense as she has been gathering endorsement after endorsement from a wide array of sources, mostly from professional organizations, civic groups, and the academe.

While officially the running mate of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Duterte-Carpio has her own party and even has a different set of senate candidates than their shared Unity Team.

President Duterte remains a popular figure even if his party, the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban, was unable to field a presidential candidate.