Presidential candidate and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said a political endorsement is just a “bonus” and he labeled local officials promising a guaranteed number of votes for certain candidates a “great insult to voters” at his Bicol campaign in Sorsogon City last March 14.

Domagoso, the standard-bearer of Aksyon Demokratiko, issued the statement after being asked if the family of party founder and late Sen. Raul Roco pledged a certain number of votes for him in the latter’s hometown of Naga City.

“I don’t ask any local leaders, any endorsers (for) promise of votes. It’s a great insult to the voters,” Domagoso told reporters.

While admitting that he wants to have a “good sum of numbers of voters” in the May 2022 elections, Domagoso said no local leader should commit to guaranteeing votes for any candidate.

“I think hindi natin puwedeng ipangako na, ‘Ako bahala sa iyo dito, bibigyan kita ng isang milyong boto’,” he said.

“Pinangungunahan mo na ang tao. Sinasaklawan mo na ‘yung kaniyang karapatang makapamili ng leader ayon sa pagkakaunawa niya,” he added.

In a report by ABS-CBN News, several local leaders got criticisms for saying their jurisdictions will deliver votes for certain candidates.

Domagoso, who so far earned the endorsements of a Rizal mayor and some labor and volunteer groups, stressed the importance of going straight to the people “because a lot of voters prefer not to be vocal about their political preferences to avoid online bickering with other candidates’ supporters.”

‘Not bothered’ by El Shaddai’s endorsement of Bongbong Marcos

In another report by ABS-CBN News, Domagoso said last February that he was not concerned by current survey frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. securing the endorsement of Christian charismatic group El Shaddai.

Domagoso told reporters then his priority was to get the endorsement of ordinary voters but will still welcome those from religious organizations.

“Ang pinakamahalagang endorsement na gusto kong makuha ay si ordinaryong Juan Dela Cruz, si Petra, si Maria, ‘yong mga tao sa kalsada, ‘yong mga tao sa bahay, ‘yong mga taong tunay na sasali upang iluklok ang kanilang pangulo,” Domagoso said.

“I’m not bothered. Basta ang importante, nandiyan ang taumbayan, nandiyan ang ‘silent majority’ nararamdaman namin sila, masaya na po kami. I hope mabasa pa sila ng ulan, dumami pa tayo,” he said, noting he was counting on the “silent majority” backing his bid.

“Precisely because the message of Vice-president Leni has been centered on targeting her political enemies,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart, noting they are not going after Robredo’s votes.

“She will get 14 to 15 percent and that is her cap. So, we are not targeting the votes of Vice-president Leni Robredo,” he added.

Hopeful to get Duterte’s endorsement

In a report by The Philippine Star, Domagoso told reporters during his campaign team’s visit to Tarlac on March 9 he was still hoping to get President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement for the presidency later on.

“I’m not (worried), it’s not May yet,” Domagoso said.

“Let us persevere, let us work hard, we will really persuade our Filipino compatriots anywhere in the Philippines and we will not stop. And I’m hoping for all the help. Now if by chance, for example, President Duterte helps me, he endorses me, that’s a huge bonus. Of course, I would like that right? Who doesn’t want to be voted for by the president of the country,” Domagoso added.

Recently, Duterte told voters to select an Ilocano as the next president while also looking for a compassionate, decisive, good judge of character and preferably a lawyer for his successor.

“One of the good qualities of a president, sana abogado. Isang tingin mo lang, maka-decide ka na kaagad,” Duterte, who is a lawyer, told Pastor Apollo Quiboloy during an interview on Saturday, March 12.

Duterte also maintained a neutral stance as he will only endorse a presidential candidate “unless there is a compelling reason really for me to change my mind.”

In a public address on February 7, Duterte remarked that all presidential bets “are qualified but he is not supporting any of them at this time.”

“Almost all of the candidates, in one way or the other, communicated to me to… ask for support. I may, in the end, if I see that it would be… my advice and maybe endorsement would help if needed. But at this time, I am saying that I am not supporting anybody,” he said.

Meanwhile, Domagoso is the preferred second-choice candidate in Pulse Asia’s latest survey covering the month of February.

Marcos Jr. remains the top pick with 60 percent followed by Robredo with 15 percent and Domagoso with 10 percent.