Mayor Isko to Fil-Ams: We’ll bring back PH to world stage

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (pictured), along with his running mate Dr. Willie Ong, held a Zoom town hall with Filipino American community members on Tuesday, October 26.

MANILA Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso has expressed his intent to forge a better relationship with the United States if elected the next president of the Philippines.

The presidential aspirant, along with his running mate Dr. Willie Ong, met with the Filipino American community via Zoom conference on Tuesday, October 26, to further discuss their platforms of governance.

According to Domagoso, the diplomatic relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. has become “tarnished,” but assured that it can be “polished” again.

“I do believe ‘tarnished’ is the right word with regard to our diplomatic relationship, but sabi nga, pwede naman pakinangin uli. Hindi naman nawala (But as they said, it can be polished again. [The bond] didn’t vanish),” he said in response to a question from the Asian Journal.

“But there is this type of distrust or mistrust,” he added. “I think we can gain (the trust) back.”

One of Domagoso’s promises included continuing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the U.S.

“There are existing agreements, the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) and all other trade treaties. And that includes VFA,” he said.

“In fact, I made it public already that we will continue the VFA, with regard to our military capabilities so that in the future, we will be more equipped… We’ll guard whatever is left in an archipelagic country like the Philippines, when some countries are putting muscle on us because we’ve shown weakness,” he added.

Domagoso also vowed to bring back the Philippines to the “world stage,” stressing the need to build relationships with other countries.

“We’ll bring back the Philippines to the world stage. I guarantee you that we need that. It’s not only just a commitment. We need to do it because, at the end of the day, no man is an island like our country,” he said.

He added, “We need to cooperate… build relationships and create a better impression to the world. And madali naman yun. Malalim naman ang ating relasyon sa mga bansang yun katulad ng Estados Unidos (That’s easy. Our relationships with countries like the U.S. are deep).”


Domagoso likewise promised to help address the problems of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). One way to do it, he said, was to make sure that the embassies and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) are properly functioning.

“One of the common denominators, not only in America — the OFWs’ problem is the embassy, the POLO,” he pointed out.

“Nagkaroon tayo ng masamang habit (We developed a bad habit), the State itself. I don’t want to point fingers at somebody, whoever it is. Nangyari, naging turista yung POLO officers natin, na yung mga na-appoint… parang yung walang ka-ide-idea (What happened was our POLO officers became tourists, the ones who were appointed… seemed like they had no idea what to do),” he added.

Domagoso continued: “Sad to say, that is the general sentiment. I spoke with the Middle East and some European OFWs and yun ang isang problema nila (that’s one of their problems). So we’ll make sure that we’ll put somebody there representing the country in their embassy to really address the real situation and give attention (to their problems).”

Meanwhile, Ong noted that one of the OFWs’ problems is taking care of their relatives in the Philippines.

“When their relatives in the Philippines get sick in a hospital, they ask for hundreds of thousands of money. So unless we fix the health care system here, it’s really going to drain the resources of the overseas Filipino workers,” he explained.

To put a stop to that, Ong reiterated the need to provide a good healthcare system in the Philippines.

“We really need (the OFWs) to boost the economy, community development, but of course we’re worried about brain drain and the psychosocial cost,” he said. “So if we provide good healthcare, jobs, and housing and education here, I think it could help alleviate the stress and pain suffered by our overseas Filipino workers.”

Travel restrictions

As for the Fil-Ams who want to visit the Philippines, Ong assured that he and Domagoso would ease the international travel restrictions.

The vice presidential candidate noted that the reason for the travel bans was because Filipinos are “worried” about foreigners “bringing diseases” to the Philippines.

“We need tourists, especially our Fil-Ams relatives. We’ll make it easier. Sometimes they have too much restrictions, like Filipinos are always worried about foreigners bringing diseases to the Philippines,” Ong told the Asian Journal.

“I think you are fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson. So why should we prohibit you from coming here,” he added. “Maybe it’s a shorter quarantine. We will see if it’s five days, 10 days.”

Domagoso and Ong are running under Aksyon Demokratiko. The Philippine 2022 national elections will be held on May 9, 2022. n


Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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