I want Philippines to be the next Singapore: Isko Moreno

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Francisco
Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso speaks to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa in an interview aired on Tuesday, April 19 2022. The mayor of the Philippines' capital city echoed past statements of other leaders of wanting to emulate the wealthy city-state. (SCREENGRAB: Rappler YouTube channel)

Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso has a long-term goal for the Philippines if he is elected president: turn it into the next Singapore.

The 47-year-old Manila mayor, an admirer of the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew, told Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, "“No matter what happened in the past, they achieved it, so hindi rin siya (so it’s not) impossible.”

When Ressa pointed out that the city-state is a small island with a population of over five million while the Philippines has more than 110 million people over 7,000 islands, Domagoso replied, “There’s no harm in achieving or trying to achieve what Singaporean achieve, kasi sila ‘yung pinakamalapit sa atin, at sa kasaysayan, pinaka-dugyot (they are the closest to us, and in history, the most downtrodden),” said Moreno,

The presidential contender was speaking to Ressa as part of the #WeDecide: First 100 Days special series of presidential interviews, which aired on Tuesday (April 19).

Fixing bureaucracy

Domagoso said his first priority would be to fix the bureaucracy, adding that he is uniquely qualified because of his decades-long experience dealing with the red tape of a "very challenging city" that is "not predictable on rules and regulations": Manila.

The father of five had previously impressed with his quick clean-up of notoriously chaotic streets in the capital’s shopping districts. His formula: get the best people, even if they work under political rivals, to head departments, then order them to “expedite everything” related implementation of programs.

Domagoso would then get the more efficient bureaucracy to focus on “minimum basic needs” like food security, health and affordable necessities like electricity and gasoline.

According to the mayor, the first two years of a six-year presidency are crucial to address these pervasive challenges, especially in light of the pandemic. “While we aspire [for] better things, good things, kapag gutom ang tao, namatay ang tao sa sakit, balewala lahat ‘yan. There’s nothing to govern if people are dying, so, I’ll go back to basic. Tawid lang kita.

(While we aspire for better things, good things, if people are hungry, people are dying from disease, all of that doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to govern if people are dying, so, I’ll go back to basic. I’ll just get you through.)

Domagoso stressed that he would instill order by creating certainty that laws would be enforced without fear or favour. “If you are certain and that certainty [of laws] would apply to the poor, middle class, rich, the powerful, those without power, I think that will trickle down, naturally, without instilling fear.”

The candidate, who is trailing in the polls, recent sparked controversy by calling on Vice President Leni Robredo to drop out of the presidential race.

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