Robredo-Lacson unity talks bog down again
MANILA, Philippines — Unity talks are definitely off between the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, closing a window for a unified opposition ticket five days before the deadline for the filing of candidacies for the 2022 elections.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Lacson’s running mate, confirmed this to the Inquirer on Sunday, although he did not say why their second dialogue with Robredo on Saturday did not prosper.
He also said that their camp was not holding unity talks with other candidates because he and Lacson, who is running for president under Reporma, were now focused on their campaign.
“Our groups and supporters are all set already nationwide. Our large organizations have started early. We are [at the] point of no return,” Sotto said. He pointed out that Lacson chairs Reporma, while he chairs the National People’s Coalition and campaign strategist Ronaldo Puno, who was earlier reported to have joined their camp, heads the National Unity Party.
“Together we are larger than any other political group. We may not get 100 percent of our memberships to campaign for us because of other commitments but our majorities are intact,” he said.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, said another meeting between the two camps was held on Saturday in an attempt to broker a deal between Robredo and Lacson.
Robredo, the LP chair, has not declared her plans next year but has been busy wooing other presidential aspirants to unite to give anti-administration forces a greater chance of winning.
During the meeting, Lacson “said he [was] committed to run for president. So no agreement was possible,” according to Drilon.
There were also “no offers” on each side to slide down to the vice presidency, he added.
“My impression is that no agreement can be reached,” Drilon said in a text message.
More patience needed
In a statement on Saturday, the senator said he believed Robredo would make a bid for the presidency before the Oct. 8 deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs).
The 1Sambayan opposition coalition has nominated Robredo as its presidential candidate.
Her spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, said that she had yet to accept the nomination and would announce her decision before the Oct. 8 deadline.
“It’s very clear to us that many are excited [and] waiting for her decision,” he said during Robredo’s weekly radio show on dzXL.
“But wait a little longer. It’s just going to be a few more days. We will eventually learn what her decision would be,” he added.
Gutierrez also belied reports that Robredo had transferred her voter’s registration in Magarao, Camarines Sur, in preparation for a possible run for a local post.
He clarified that the Vice President only wanted to be consistent with her place of residence.
“VP Leni has always been clear on this: her present priority, the discernment she is doing right now is for a national post—the presidency,” Gutierrez said. “Her options for local posts will have to wait until she has [not yet] given clarity to her national aspirations.”
If ever Robredo does run, he assured her supporters that she would not “back down or play tricks” like substitute her candidacy.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term, declared in August that he would run for the vice presidency.
But in a surprise announcement on Saturday, he said he would retire.
—WITH REPORTS FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING AND AFP
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