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According to Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, the comments by his fellow presidential candidate Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso calling for Vice President Leni Robredo to quit the electoral contest were not planned by the team.
In an interview with the Inquirer via Viber messages, Lacson said, "I didn’t know and I had no idea he would do that."
“In fairness to Mayor Isko, he made it clear that the ‘withdraw call’ was only his own,” Lacson said. “I don’t think I was blindsided, or at least it was intentional on the part of Mayor Isko. I think he was carried away by his recollection that VP Robredo earlier asked him to do the ‘supreme sacrifice’ and withdraw.”
Three presidential bets – Manila mayor Domagoso, together with Lacson and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales – held a joint press conference on Easter Sunday at which they affirmed their commitment to follow through on their campaigns instead of withdrawing from the race.
Domagoso drew flak for asking Robredo to withdraw from the contest instead.
Domagoso's chief strategist Lito Banayo further told the Inquirer that the mayor’s appeal to Robredo to drop out of the race “was not a team call but an off-the-cuff comment.”
Banayo, however, doubled down on Domagoso's call for Robredo to quit.
"Since the Leni partisans, including Tim Orbos and his companions called for a ‘supreme sacrifice’ so that [Marcos] Jr. can be defeated, Mayor Isko challenged VP Leni to do that sacrifice and withdraw from the race,” said Banayo.
Tim Orbos was previously a leader of the Domagoso volunteer group Ikaw Muna Pilipinas, but had switched to Robredo's camp.
"As I have been repeatedly saying, the VP has a ceiling beyond which her numbers will not grow, which is basically in sync with what Secretary Gonzales opined. If her intent is to ensure a Marcos defeat, best for her to give way to those who might have a chance to breach her ceiling,” Banayo added.
Robredo herself has called on supporters not to be swayed by emotions and to be affected by critics, and to focus on the campaign with only 20 days left to the elections.
The latest poll by Pulse Asia on who Filipinos would vote for as president placed Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as the frontrunner, with 56% of survey respondents favoring him.
Robredo came in second, with 24%.
Domagoso was third, with 8%, while Lacson got 2%.
Gonzales received zero votes from respondents.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, another contender, came in fourth at 6%. The former boxer was reportedly supposed to attend the Sunday press conference, although he did not turn up.
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