His being a distant third in nearly all surveys was just not good enough.

The group that prodded Isko Moreno to run for president last year withdrew its support for the Manila mayor last week, in favor of Vice-president Leni Robredo.

IMPilipinas, headed by former Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Tim Orbos, said Robredo is in a better position to make sure that the Marcoses do not return to Malacañang.

At a press conference to announce their shift of loyalty, Orbos said: “From a call for unity, we now shift to a call for unity for Vice-president Leni Robredo in her campaign to be our president in 2022.”

Added Orbos: “The Vice-president is consistently in second place for the past months and has been on a steady rise, with the biggest increase shown in the latest survey.”

That “should be telling,” he also said.

While the first two letters of IMPilipinas coincide with Moreno’s – the former actor’s real name Francisco Domagoso – the organization’s registered name is Ikaw Muna Pilipinas.

As such, the group will be retaining its name until election day, at least.

The volunteer group claims a membership of 200,000 nationwide.

Orbos said that while Moreno has strong leadership skills, the country is facing a difficult set of problems now, which Robredo is better equipped to handle.

Moreno said he was unfazed by IMPilipinas abandoning him at this late stage, as it was all part of Philippine politics.

“They can do whatever they want to do. They’re entitled to their own opinion,” he said in an interview with local media.

Moreno, however, took issue with the group’s leadership saying that their move was necessary to prevent another Marcos presidency.

Moreno replied that he was not angry at the perceived lead of presidential bet Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He said he was not running because he had issues with Marcos Jr., or Robredo, or Manny Pacquiao, or Ping Lacson.

In a related development, a number of IMPilipinas members said they were being coerced or prevented from abandoning Moreno in favor of Robredo.

Orbos said, “We found out that some of the officers – I’m not referring to the camp of Yorme, this is just IMPilipinas – some of the officers there are preventing other people from moving out.”

He said he had text messages from members “saying they will join and then they will not.”
Orbos said he could attest that there was pressure on members of IMPilipinas “in not joining our call for unity.”

For his part, acting IMPilipinas Secretary General Philip Piccio insisted that “99 percent” of the group’s members were sticking it out with Moreno, despite the apparent weakening of the coalition initially supporting the candidacy of the Manila mayor.

There had been mounting calls in the last few weeks for the candidates who were faring poorly in the surveys to step aside in favor of Robredo.

But thus far, only Labor leader Leody de Guzman said he would abandon his own presidential campaign in favor of the Vice-president if the other candidates also did the same.

But IMPilipinas is not the only group to switch its allegiance to Robredo. The Partido Reporma of Ping Lacson last month announced that the Senator was no longer their presidential candidate and they would henceforth campaign for Robredo.

Lacson also announced that he would continue his presidential run as an independent.

Moreno has been citing surveys showing he is the preferred second choice of a large segment of voters should either Robredo or Marcos Jr. withdraw from the race.

This was dismissed by Orbos, who asked, “Why pick two over three?”

“The simple reason is, we have to beat number one.

That’s very important because as I said, nothing personal, to move forward we need to have an acknowledgment of the past.”

Orbos insisted that Moreno does not have the numbers to win.