VETERAN political campaign strategist Angelito “Lito” Banayo has been at the receiving end of attacks since Manila Mayor Isko Moreno announced he is seeking the presidency in 2022, according to a statement from the Moreno camp.

The attacks are not surprising, given that Moreno is “a very strong presidential candidate,” prompting “propaganda operators of threatened opponents” to also “snipe at the person behind the candidate,” the media release noted.

Banayo immediately became the object of attacks from known supporters of other presidential wannabes, since Moreno declared his intent, alongside his chosen running mater, Doc Willie Ong.

The attacks ranged from being a “traitor” to President Duterte, whom Banayo helped win in 2016, and allegedly abetting rice smuggling during his term as chairman of the National Food Authority under the Aquino administration, according to the media release from Moreno’s camp.

However, the complaint lodged against Banayo and several other NFA officials had been dismissed by the Office Ombudsman on September 18, 2016, with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales signing the order dismissing it, “after a careful review by Anna Isabel Aurellano, acting director of PIAB-E and recommended approval by Asst. Ombudsman Marilou Ancheta-Mejica,” the statement pointed out.

Banayo is known to have played a critical role in Duterte’s “sprawling and uncentralized, but ultimately successful campaign machinery. He helped analyze surveys and had a say in messaging and political strategy, even helping come up with the slogan ‘Tapang at Malasakit’.”

When Duterte won in 2016, Banayo was appointed chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and its Resident Representative in Taiwan, which is equivalent to the rank of ambassador.

Banayo resigned as MECO Chairman on July 30, after meeting with Duterte and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea sometime in May when he told the President that it would not sit well with the public if his daughter Sara runs for president.

For Banayo, it was the Covid-19 pandemic response by the national government which convinced him to support a non-administration presidential bet in the person of Moreno Domagoso, according to the statement from the mayor’s camp.

Before the Duterte campaign, Banayo was involved in the 1986 Cory Aquino-Doy Laurel campaign as UNIDO deputy secretary-general, the 1992 Ramon Mitra Jr.-Marcelo Fernan campaign as spokesman, Joseph Estrada’s candidate manager in the 1998 polls, deputy campaign manager for Panfilo Lacson’s 2004 bid, and deputy campaign manager to Sen. Serge Osmena for the 2010 Aquino-Roxas campaign.

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