A FORMER matinee idol who is running for Philippine president on Wednesday promised to develop the countryside as part of his economic plan, while vowing to continue the Duterte government’s infrastructure program. 

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso during a campaign sortie in Iloilo said he would build more irrigation and farm-to-market roads in the provinces, while making his administration’s infrastructure projects more people-oriented.  

“A peso spent in Manila will never give us much economic growth because of the law of diminishing returns,” he said in a speech streamed live on Facebook. “The same peso spent in the provinces will give us more in terms of returns.” 

Development has mostly been concentrated in so-called imperial Manila, even during the reign of Mr. Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao. 

The Ilonggos welcomed Mr. Domagoso, a former sexy star who is running under the Aksyon Demokratiko party, at the La Paz Public Market and took turns taking pictures and getting his autograph. 

He traced the warm welcome to his father being from Panay. He urged them to think hard about their votes since it has been a long time since the country had an Ilonggo president, referring to the late Manuel Roxas. 

Mr. Domagoso, whose rags-to-riches story has captivated many Filipinos, earlier said he would form the “broadest form of government” and hire millennials if he becomes President.  

Among the top presidential bets in recent opinion polls, he used to be a scavenger and pedicab driver in a Manila slum before he was discovered by a talent scout in the 1990s. 

He is also famous for having beaten ex-President Joseph E. Estrada in the 2019 local elections for Manila mayor. 

Before becoming mayor, Mr. Domagoso served as the city’s vice mayor from 2007 to 2016. He grew up in Tondo and represented the district when he was elected to the Manila City Council in 1998. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan