Sunday Mar, 03 2024 07:59:43 AM

Isko, Ping, Gonzales not backing out of prexy race for Leni

NDBC BANTAY HALALAN 2023 • 18:15 PM Sun Apr 17, 2022
Marita Moaje/PNA
ON WITH THE RACE. Presidential candidates "Isko Moreno" Domagoso (2nd from left), "Ping" Lacson (2nd from right), and Norberto Gonzales (center) vow to continue their bid for the country's top post in a press briefing in Makati City on Sunday. (PNA)

MANILA – Presidential candidates Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, Panfilo "Ping’ Lacson", and Norberto Gonzales have assured the voters that they will never withdraw from the electoral race despite alleged attempts to lure them to quit and make the "ultimate sacrifice".

“Ang message namin is wag kayong maniwala sa mga disinformation na may magwi-withdraw na isa sa amin, yun ang core message. I emphasize nobody will withdraw. Huwag na nating bilhin yung kanilang propaganda na may magwi-withdraw sa amin (Our message is, do not believe in disinformation that somebody from among us will withdraw, that’s the core message. Let us not buy their propaganda that one of us will withdraw),” Lacson said in an Easter Sunday press briefing at the Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City.

This was seconded by Domagoso by saying, “Simula ngayon hanggang May 9, tuloy ang laban namin (From this day until May 9, we will continue the fight)”.

During the press conference, all the three candidates said they were urged to withdraw from their presidential bid as an "ultimate sacrifice" in favor of Vice President Leni Robredo.

They claimed that they were directly told by people from the Robredo camp to withdraw their candidacy in order to beat former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. who remains to be the frontrunner in the surveys.

“Vice President Leni Robredo talked to me twice to unite under her. That’s not unification. Withdrawing our candidacies is out of the question,” Lacson said.

He clarified that he is not sure whether Robredo has knowledge of these attempts but emphasized that the people who talked to him were from the Vice President's camp.

Lacson named former Quezon City Mayor Jun Simon and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as among those who asked that he back out of the elections.

This is apart from the twin “unification” talks with Robredo herself before the filing of her candidacy.

Despite all the negative implications against the lone female presidential contender, the three candidates stressed that they are not against her.

“This press conference is not all about Vice President Leni Robredo. This is also about (Ferdinand) Marcos (Jr.). I cannot believe that more than 50 percent of Filipinos are still Marcos loyalists. I think they just don’t like VP Robredo. We want to remind Filipinos that there are other candidates like us,” Lacson said, adding that the coming May election seemed to be focused only on the two candidates who are topping the surveys.

He emphasized to the media that the press conference was not anti-Leni. "Dun nyo kasi dinadala ‘yung tanong. ‘Yung iba kasi ‘pag nagtanong, parang may karga na eh (You are leading the questions towards that angle. Some of you ask questions that are malicious,” he chided some newsmen.

Gonzales agreed with Lacson that the press conference may seem to be against the Vice President but it is not, despite the fact that they were all offered to quit the race by some individuals from her camp.

The three candidates said they are offering themselves as another option to the Filipino people, especially those who are fed up with the war of political "colors".

They added that they joined the presidential race to offer true service and solutions to the country’s woes, and not for any personal interests.

Domagoso added that it is for the love of the country and the Filipino people.

“Mahal lang nila nga sarili nila, hindi nila mahal ang bansa at ang Pilipino. Kasi kung mahal natin ang ating bansa at ang Pilipino, igagalang mo ang resulta ng eleksyon (They only love themselves, not the country nor the Filipinos. Because if you love the country and its people, you will respect the election result),” he said.

There were recent reports of Lacson and Domagoso supporters shifting to Robredo, who they say, has a higher chance of defeating Marcos in the coming election.

Gonzales said it may be a case of supporters "hating" one candidate and shifting to the next "strong" candidate in order to not let the other win.

However, he said the gap between Marcos and Robredo in surveys remains big.

Gonzales further said even if a certain candidate quits the race, this will not necessarily add up to the votes for Robredo.

“Kahit i-endorse pa namin si VP Robredo, ‘yung boto namin ay hindi mapupunta sa kanya (Even if we endorse VP Robredo, our vote will not go directly to her),” he said.

Lacson said: “Ang punto ko lang, kung ayaw nyo kay Marcos, mamili kayo sa amin. Kung ayaw nyo kay Robredo, mamili kayo sa amin. Huwag kayo ma-confine na lang sa dalawa (My point is, if you dislike Marcos, choose from among us. If you do not like Robredo, choose from among us. Do not be confined to only two candidates).”

Aside from the three presidentiables, Manny Pacquiao was also supposed to join the press conference but had to attend to an urgent matter in General Santos City.

Domagoso and Lacson were also joined by their vice-presidential bets, Dr. Willie Ong and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III in the briefing.

At the end of the conference, all the candidates present signed a joint statement in support of a clean, honest, and credible election.

They also assured that they will stand up to fight any attempt to subvert the voting process.

“We therefore commit to combine the strength of our forces to combat any attempt to subvert the true will of the people by preemptive maneuvers or otherwise limit their choices,” their joint statement read.

Meanwhile, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's spokesperson, said in a statement also on Sunday: "With three weeks to go before election day, we are at a time of great momentum for our People’s Campaign, and increasing clarity as regards which candidates can count on the people's support when they enter voting booths on May 9. From the start, it has been 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."

He added that in making choices, the people should ask themselves: "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."

Gutierrez said they are thankful that the alignments have been made even clearer and the Vice President's camp remains focused on showing the people that a Robredo presidency will mean "victory" for the Filipinos. (PNA)

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