Presidential bets hit Robredo over calls to back out from race

·3 min read

PRESIDENTIAL aspirants former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Sunday, April 17, 2022, hit their fellow candidate Vice President Leni Robredo who they claim were behind calls for their withdrawal from the race.

In a joint press conference at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati City, Gonzales, Domagoso and Lacson all vowed not to drop their candidacies.

Presidential aspirant Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was also supposed to attend the press conference but did not make it on time from his trip to his hometown. Former Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella also earlier committed his attendance, according to Gonzales, but he did not attend.

In a joint statement, the four aspirants also vowed to support the government of whoever, among them, will win the presidency, as well as to protect the cleanliness and honesty of the upcoming national elections.

The candidates revealed they were approached by “dilawans” and “pinklawans” asking them to withdraw and shift support to Robredo.

He said they were even offered to get paid in exchange for dropping their presidential bid.

Robredo camp’s reply

In a press statement, Vice President Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said it is the “prerogative of every candidate to continue till the end.”

“The same as it is the choice of a candidate to disregard surveys, rally attendance, endorsements, or any other conventional measure of support. We wish every candidate who decides to push through to the end, only the best,” added Gutierrez, a lawyer.

Robredo’s spokesperson’s statement threw a shade at the allegations that their camp offered to pay the candidates in exchange for dropping their presidential bids.

Gutierrez said: “In making these choices (to run for the presidency), should we not ask ourselves: Must this assertion be made through bluster and falsehood? Who benefits from such theatrics? What is best for the Filipino people? Perhaps, silence would have had more depth; at the very least, it would exhibit less self-entitlement, fragility, and toxicity.”

Dilawans is the term used to refer to the opposition or the members and supporters of the Liberal Party of the Philippines while the Pinklawans refer to the supporters of Robredo who is the chairman of the said party but is running as an independent candidate.

Lacson said there are attempts to subvert the election process through defection of some groups for a certain bet, particularly Robredo.

The outgoing senator recently resigned from Partido Reporma, which later shifted support to Robredo.

He recalled his earlier claims that he met with Robredo even before the filing of certificate of candidacies where he was asked to rally behind her.

Lacson said the latest attempt to make him withdraw was through former Quezon City Mayor Brigido “Jun” Simon Jr.

He said Simon told him that if he withdrew, they would drop Robredo’s running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and shift support to Lacson’s tandem, Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Moreno said he also met with Robredo in 2021 and she informed him repeatedly that he will not run for president.

He said they were treated like “garbage” by Robredo’s camp amid attempts to negotiate to withdraw and support her instead.

A chapter of the volunteer group Ikaw Muna Pilipinas, which initially supported the candidacy of Moreno, also recently shifted to endorsing Robredo.

‘Withdraw Leni’

Among the three candidates, Moreno and Gonzales were the most vocal in criticizing Robredo and urging her to withdraw from the race.

Moreno said it should be Robredo who should offer the “supreme sacrifice and be a hero” and back out.

“Be a hero. Withdraw, Leni,” he said, adding that her camp was the most persistent in calling for him and other candidates’ withdrawal.

Gonzales said it may seem that Filipinos opt to rally behind presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. based on the recent presidential survey because they do not like Robredo who is currently on the second rank.

However, Lacson maintained that the press conference was not “anti-Leni” but to remind the Filipino people that they have plenty of choices for the upcoming polls. (TPM / SunStar Philippines with KAL)

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