By Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan
MANILA Mayor and presidential aspirant Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso’s appeal to his supporters comes from being a former actor and his work in the city, political analysts said.
“It’s a combination of both,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines (UP), said in a Viber message. “In this country, where personality politics trumps party platforms and loyalty, celebrities can have an advantage.”
Mr. Domagoso, whose rags-to-riches story has captivated many Filipinos, beat ex-President Joseph E. Estrada in the 2019 local elections. Mr. Estrada was himself a famous action star before he entered politics.
Mr. Domagoso used to be a scavenger and pedicab driver in a Manila slum before he was discovered by a talent scout in the 1990s.
Ms. Atienza said not all celebrities who have the looks and fame win major electoral posts.
“In the case of Isko, we will see if he will succeed in combining his celebrity looks with his politician or local government background based on the actual election results.”
His work in Manila has made an impact and his supporters are not just drawn to his looks, said Herman S. Kraft, a political science professor from UP.
“Isko’s supporters see him as a serious candidate and not just as eye candy,” he said in a Viber message. “His work in Manila has made an impression.”
“There might be some enthusiasm because he looks good, but I don’t think those who see him that way will continue to stick with him as his campaign intensifies,” he added.
Robin Michael Garcia, chief executive at WR Numero Research, said Mr. Domagoso is a formidable presidential candidate. “He represents a serious electoral threat to other presidential candidates,” he said via Viber.
The mayor’s promise of scaling up his city projects sends a strong message to voters, said Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a senior research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government. “He has what others have termed as a proof of concept,” he said in an e-mail.
It would be unfair to attribute his appeal solely to his past as a showbiz star, said Hansley A. Juliano, a former political science professor studying at Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development in Japan.
“People are judging him for his stint in Manila as vice-mayor, then credibly winning against Estrada as mayor in 2019 and establishing a sort of consensus appeal between the middle-class population of Manila, even as policies adversely affected the urban poor,” he said in Facebook Messenger chat.
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.
Meanwhile, Mr. Domagoso on Sunday vowed to boost the Marikina shoe industry if he becomes president.
“The government will purchase Marikina’s shoes,” he said in a statement. “The shoes of the military and police all come from there. I wish it would be the same for schools and government offices.”