After his overtures requesting President Rodrigo Duterte to support his candidacy were rebuffed, presidential bet Isko Moreno said what the Philippines needed was a leader in the mold of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, rather than an “absentee president,” apparently referring to the President known for disappearing from the public eye for days, sometimes weeks, at a time.

Meanwhile, fellow presidential candidate Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines needed a “true leader” like Zelensky, who he said was “a living hero.”

Manila Mayor Moreno – real family name Domagoso – praised the dedication of Zelensky to his country in the face of his life-threatening situation by manning the frontlines in the war against Russia.

Moreno said during a campaign stop in Pilar, Bataan that the Philippines needed someone like Zelensky, who was not afraid to face flying bullets, never leaving his countrymen, and not cowering in fear of the enemy.

The country, Moreno added, needed a leader who shows up and who communicates with his constituents.

Without mentioning Duterte by name, Moreno also said Filipinos should reject leaders who are frequently absent, especially when they are needed most.

In another pit stop in his ongoing presidential campaign, Moreno said solutions to problems could not be found “if we are always absent.”

Hiding and paying lip service was no solution to pressing problems, he said in San Fernando, Pampanga.

He asked his fellow Filipinos to give him a chance to prove his mettle in a nationwide stage, just like Zelensky.

The Manila mayor vowed that he would be with the people even during floods, earthquakes, and pandemics. He, however, said that he wanted to prove himself the way Zelensky has done even during wartime.

At the very least, he said he would never abandon his post. Moreno recalled how he slept at Manila City Hall for three months in the early part of the pandemic, two years ago.
For his part, Lacson said the Philippines should elect a leader who can guide the country through numerous crises.

The next president should have the ability, honesty, and bravery to face the country’s problems head on just like the president of Ukraine, he said.

“Every time I see (Zelensky), chills run up my spine, because he’s right there with his soldiers, ready to die for his country,” Lacson said.

Two other presidential bets appeared to have different views of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, until one suddenly changed his tune.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. initially said the Philippines should adopt a neutral stance in the war in Europe but later backtracked by saying the Russian invasion was wrong and the Philippines should support Ukraine.

He had earlier said that there was no need for the Philippines to take a stand in Russian’s invasion of its next-door neighbor but flip-flopped when he later issued a statement saying, “I stand united with the rest of the world for Russia to respect Ukraine’s freedom and its citizens’ democratic way of life.”

Marcos Jr. had taken the same stance calling for neutrality like President Duterte, before his change of heart. That initial stance was cited by his followers as the way to go as it was in contrast with the stand taken by his principal opponent Vice-president Leni Robredo.

Robredo issued a strongly worded statement condemning Russia’s invasion.
In a statement over the weekend, Robredo said she condemned “the violence that has been inflicted upon the people of Ukraine, the violation of its sovereignty, and threat that now hangs above all the innocent lives in the region.”