MANILA Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso on Wednesday said he would hire millennials if he becomes president, as he vowed to form a government “with the best and brightest” people.

At the launch of his presidential bid in the Philippine capital, the former matinee idol said he would appoint officials who are competent and not because they are his friends. He also vowed to fire corrupt officials.

“Leaders should not only think outside of the box, they must also choose people outside their circle,” Mr. Domagoso, 46, said. “A leader who does not inspire the best among us to serve in government ends up surrounded by the least among us who are ruining the government instead of running it well.”

He cited the need for “constant innovation.” “I may not give you perfect government but together we can make it better,” said Mr. Domagaso, whose vice-presidential running mate will be Willie T. Ong, a cardiologist who lost in the senatorial race in 2019.

He said he would enforce an open governance policy, which he started in Manila by allowing residents to send suggestions on how to improve government service straight to his office.

“I will welcome criticism because the value in listening to complaints is they lead to better policies and improve services,” he added.

Mr. Domagoso slammed the government’s pandemic response and the leadership style of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“We’ve been under quarantine for 557 days, but instead of flattening the curve, we have flattened our economy,” he said. “Many people continue flatlining in hospitals.”

Mr. Domagoso said he would avoid senseless speeches late at night, alluding to Mr. Duterte’s televised speeches in which he has attacked political opponents including the Manila mayor.

The President has said Mr. Domagoso does not deserve to become president given his past as a sexy actor.

The Manila chief, who ran and lost in the 2016 senatorial race, said leaders who flip-flop on their political ambitions could not be trusted.

Months before the May 2016 elections, Mr. Duterte said he would not run for President, only to change his mind by becoming a substitute candidate. The tough-talking leader has said he would abandon his vice-presidential ambition for 2022 if his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio runs for President.

Mr. Domagoso used to be a scavenger and pedicab driver in a Manila slum before he was discovered by a talent scout.

“While poverty dehumanizes, it must not take the humanity out of you,” he said. “Yes, I grew up poor but I have never been disrespectful,” he added in Filipino. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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