Ping, Bert also blast VP camp for asking them to quit prexy race
Trailing in third place in most opinion polls, presidential candidate Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Sunday called on Vice President Leni Robredo, who is leading him, to withdraw from the race, saying she only ran to stop the Marcos family from returning to Malacañang.
In a press conference that also featured other presidential candidates Senator Panfilo Lacson and Norberto Gonzales, Domagoso offered himself as an alternative candidate to Filipinos who are tired of bickering and want “peace of mind”–then used a Marcos catchphrase, saying it was “time to move on.”
Senator Manny Pacquiao, according to Domagoso, had intended to sign their joint statement stating their decision not to withdraw from the presidential race, but the lawmaker did not make it to the press conference.
Moreno said Robredo should make “the supreme sacrifice” to beat frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the presidential race.
“If there is a supreme sacrifice, the No. 2 (in the survey) should do [it]. Let Leni withdraw. Withdraw, Leni, if you love your country,” Domagoso said.
“Whatever you’re doing is not effective against the Marcoses,” he continued. “Withdraw, come and join us. Can I still sub? Still sub. Maybe we can get three points, one of us,” he said, using a basketball metaphor.
Domagoso, the standard bearer for the Aksyon Demokratiko, alleged that Robredo’s camp has been asking other candidates to step aside and support her fight against Marcos, the frontrunner in most opinion polls.
Marcos got the support of 56 percent of Pulse Asia’s March presidential survey respondents, followed by Robredo, who is backed by 24 percent. Domagoso ranks third with 8 percent; Senator Manny Pacquiao, 6 percent; and Lacson, 2 percent.
But Domagoso said he is the top second choice for president.
Gonzales, who had zero percent support from those surveyed by Pulse Asia last month, said the latest results suggest that the people are not in favor of the second-ranked contender to battle it out with the first placer.
Domagoso also suggested that voters are backing Marcos’ presidential bid only to ensure that the independent Robredo and the Liberal Party that supports her would not return to power after the 2022 national elections.
“Maybe they do not really like former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” he said in Filipino. “But they just picked him because they just hate the Yellow party so much,” referring to the Liberals.
Domagoso cited the loss of opposition slate “Otso Diretso” in the 2019 midterm elections where none of the candidates bagged a Senate seat despite an endorsement from Robredo.
“The Otso Diretso was flushed down the toilet… Perhaps people are flocking toward the former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. because of so much anger against the yellow-pink.”
Domagoso also slammed Robredo’s camp and supporters for supposedly urging him to make the “supreme sacrifice” and pull out of the race.
But Lacson made it clear he was not urging anyone to withdraw from the race, and said he would certainly not pull out.
He also said he found it hard to believe that more than half of Filipino voters were solid supporters of Marcos, since several issues rooted in the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. remain unresolved decades after he was ousted from Malacañang.
“We still hear from our people the pains of martial law, especially those who have yet to receive their compensation,” Lacson said in Filipino.
All of the presidential candidates at the press conference said they were determined to finish the race.
They also vowed to unite and serve the government whoever among them would emerge victorious in the upcoming polls.
Lacson said they had to pursue unification to show to the people that there are other options for the presidency aside from Marcos and Robredo.
“There are not just two options. Actually, there are others running,” he said.
“Our experiences are the same. Some wanted to strip Mayor Isko and I of our supporters and our support groups,” he said.
Partido Reporma had initially adopted Lacson as its standard bearer, but he resigned from the party when its president, Pantaleon Alvarez, shifted his support to Robredo last month.
In their joint statement, Domagoso, Lacson and Gonzales vowed to join forces to fight any act to distort the real decision of the people or that would limit the people’s choices.
Lacson committed to fight moves by some sectors to subvert democracy by “convincing” him and some of his fellow presidential bets to withdraw from the race.
He said he was not alone in getting feelers to withdraw from the presidential race in exchange for financial and other considerations.
“In so many words, what is this? This is an attempt to subvert the will of the electorate even before Election Day,” he said at the press conference.
“That is the essence of our press conference–and a warning against those concerned against subverting the will of the electorate because we’ll stand up as one,” he added.
“We’re emphasizing this morning that nobody will withdraw. We’ll go all the way until May 9, come what may. Let’s not buy their propaganda no matter how foul and below the belt,” Lacson said.
Lacson, who earlier named former Quezon City mayor Brigido “Jun” Simon Jr. as approaching him to withdraw in favor of Robredo, said he learned from Gonzales that he had a similar experience.
Lacson also noted he and other candidates including Domagoso, were being “stripped” of their supporters by the same camp.
Lacson’s vice presidential bet, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, said he is supporting Lacson, Domagoso and Gonzales.
“I fully support the stand they are making on this,” he said.
Domagoso said Senator Manny Pacquiao will supposedly sign the joint statement, but he was still on the way to Manila from General Santos City at the time of the press conference.
Domagoso and Lacson also attacked Robredo as someone who “cannot be trusted,” saying they were “fooled” into believing that she wanted to unite the opposition and that she had no interest in seeking the country’s top post.
“I was also fooled in the face by the Vice President. She said to my face, 1,000 times, that she will not run for president,” Domagoso said.
Lacson said he experienced the same treatment before the filing of candidacies in October 2021.
“The first meeting, the concept, beautiful, unification. So I took a bite,” he said.
Lacson said he initially suggested to Robredo to consider taking Senate President Vicente Sotto III as her vice presidential candidate, but the idea was rejected.
Lacson said after he already decided to run for president with Sotto, Robredo’s camp wanted to consider his initial proposal.
“If she accepted my first offer, I might not be here now. But then, she rejected it,” Lacson said.
Lacson also alleged that Robredo’s camp was willing to drop her running mate Senator Francisco Pangilinan to gain more votes in certain provinces.
“She went to Davao del Norte alone, leaving her vice presidential candidate … that to me speaks a lot about her character,” Lacson said.
Earlier, Robredo has said she is standing by her running mate, despite some camps matching her with other vice presidential aspirants.