MANILA (UPDATE) - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Tuesday was “promoted” to a key position in the National Unity Party (NUP), an emerging power bloc in the House of Representatives.
Moreno was named as party vice-chairman for political affairs during NUP’s oathtaking for new members and officers in a hotel in Quezon City.
Moreno described his new post as “a promotion” because he previously served as the party’s deputy secretary for public affairs.
“[I will be in charge] of rearrangement of alliances, the politics itself,” Moreno told ABS-CBN News.
Moreno has yet to say how he intends to grow the party, but said that he would try to form alliances with “quality” members. “Quality is always the best,” he said.
“Malaking bagay na ang magiging kasapi ng bawat koponan, not only in our party, ay totoong mapapakinabangan ng taumbayan,” he said.
The party gave Moreno a “very important position” not to piggyback on his popularity but because he is “really qualified for that,” NUP President Elpidio Barzaga told ABS-CBN News in a separate interview.
“We are giving positions to them not because we want them to attract new members, but to show that they are really qualified for that position and to recognize what they have been doing for the party,” he said.
Moreno has been a member of NUP for nearly three years, with the party backing his failed senatorial bid in 2016, he said.
Moreno’s local party, Asenso Manileño, is an affiliate of the group.
“In heart, spirit and action, he was really an NUP. That was the reason why he was given a very important position,” Barzaga said.
“It would also show that our party [leadership] is not limited only to congressmen, but even to our local party members who are giving a very good showing in so far as governance is concerned,” he said.
Moreno’s appointment as a party leader could encourage NUP’s local members “to follow what Isko has been doing,” the NUP president said, referring to the mayor’s projects in the capital city.
“Any public official who has a good track record would be an asset,” he said.
NUP earlier adopted Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte, the president’s eldest son, and his party-list allies last week.
Former NUP President Fred Castro earlier said reports that over 30 congressmen are joining the National Unity Party are natural as House members tend to follow where presidential influence is.
He said he resigned out of "pure and simple delicadeza" and not because of Duterte's acceptance into the party.