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Vice President Leni Robredo did not ask her rivals in the presidential race to withdraw from the election, said her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez on Wednesday (April 20).
In an ANC television interview, Gutierrez said, "We've answered this several times before. To be very clear, there have been no active efforts on our end to talk to any candidate, much less ask them to withdraw."
"Certainly, money was never on the table," he added, in response to rumors that monetary offers were made in exchange for withdrawals of candidacy.
"In fact, even if you look at their statements on the supposed talks, only one name was mentioned, (former Quezon City) Mayor Jun Simon. And we've already clarified that Mayor Jun Simon is not authorized to speak for the campaign. Whatever conversation he was pursuing, that was purely his own initiative and purely his own call," said Gutierrez.
Regarding previous plans by Robredo to forge a unified alliance among candidates, Gutierrez said, "In all of her public statements, she has been very very clear: we are no longer pursuing active efforts in this regard, although we remain open to having conversations if people will to talk to us."
Three presidential bets – Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales – had held a joint press conference on Easter Sunday at which they alleged that Robredo had asked other bets to withdraw from the election so that she would have a better chance against the current frontrunner, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Domagoso, who currently trails Robredo in election opinion polls, drew flak for asking her to withdraw from the contest instead. Despite that, he doubled down on his criticisms of Robredo, repeating his call for her to withdraw from the presidential race and challenging her to deny that she asked opposing candidates to drop out from the contest.
In response to Gutierrez's interview, Domagoso asked VP Robredo to speak for herself and told spokesperson Gutierrez to stop speaking for her.
"Barry, tabi ka na sa gedli, pagsalitain mo ang amo mo. Pagsalitain mo yang amo mo. O baka hindi pa mabasa? Kailangan ng teleprompter?" Moreno said in an ambush interview in Bohol.
(Barry, step aside and let your boss speak. Let her speak. Or maybe she needs a teleprompter?)
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