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Does Mayor Isko Moreno Really Look Up to Ferdinand Marcos?

The mayor sets the record straight.
IMAGE FACEBOOK @iskomorenodomagoso/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is still making headlines just over two weeks since he assumed office. The 44-year-old former actor has constantly been on the news and social media delivering on his campaign promise to clean up the streets of the country’s capital city. 

Because of his near-constant presence on social media feeds, reports have surfaced online of old interviews he did in which he professed to admiring the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In particular, Moreno has been vocal about reviving the “Nutribun” program to combat hunger and malnourishment in the city. There have also been reports of his plans to bring back “Kadiwa,” a social welfare program meant for people to exchange recyclable waste into food coupons, as well as the Metroaide, or roving street sweepers and cleaners to keep the city spic and span.

All three programs were instituted and developed during Marcos’ tenure as president in the 1970s to early 1980s.

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Although Moreno clearly found inspiration for his pet projects in popular Marcos-era policies, many of his supporters—whether his constituents inside Manila or observers outside—are wondering if he really looks up to Marcos as a political “idol.” 

During Esquire’s cover story interview, we asked him point blank who his inspirations are in the field of governance. His answer: “Lee Kuan Yew. Lincoln, because of (what he did for) equality. Martin Luther King Jr. for his patience. And Marcos for development.”

We made sure we heard him right. Did he really say Marcos?

Kanya kanya tayong opinion,” he said. “Bakit ko ipagkakait sa sarili ko na kumopya sa mga ginawa ng iba’t ibang uri ng tao sa iba’t ibang panahon? People make mistakes. That doesn’t mean kokopyahin mo yung buo. Hindi ba magandang kumopya ng maganda lang? (We all have our own opinions. Why should I deprive myself of the chance to copy what different kinds of people from different eras have done? People make mistakes. That doesn’t mean you’re going to copy everything (they) did. Isn’t it good to copy just the good parts?)”

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Moreno then went on to cite Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew as an example.

“He was called a dictator of Singapore. But look at Singapore now. A 70-year-old country (that’s a) powerhouse of the region. Because he invested in the people of Singapore. He provided good quality education, security, housing, yung Home Development Board, the in-city development program.

“Marcos because of his infrastructure and his vision,” he added. “Yung gaano kalayo tumingin (He knew how to look) with regards to the incoming demands of the next 10 or 15 years.”

Moreno said he understood that people might find it confusing or upsetting that he answers Marcos when asked about the leaders he looks up to, but he just wanted to put everything in the correct perspective.

Marami ka namang pwedeng kopyahin (You can copy a lot),” he said. “I’m just trying to get a little of the good parts, the best parts. And innovate it and try to (adjust) it to address the current situation. It doesn’t mean kasi that what was effective then is effective now. You have to innovate.”

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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