Robredo did not make any withdrawal call – spokesperson
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo did not ask any of her rivals to drop their presidential bids to give way to her candidacy, her spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, reiterated on Wednesday.
Gutierrez denied Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s insistent claim that Robredo had talked to him and the other presidential aspirants to withdraw supposedly to make the presidential race into a two-way contest between her and front-runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
He pointed out that the vice president had actually tried to broker a unity ticket among non-administration candidates before deciding in October 2021 to throw her hat into the May 9 presidential derby.
“To be very clear, there have been no active efforts on our end to talk to any candidate, much less ask them to withdraw,” Gutierrez said in a television interview.
“Certainly, money was never on the table,” he stressed. “In fact, even if you look at their statements on the supposed talks, only one name was mentioned, (former Quezon City) Mayor Jun Simon.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who had been lagging behind in surveys along with Moreno, identified Simon as the one who allegedly tried to convince him to quit the presidential race in favor of Robredo, who cut Marcos’ lead by 13 percentage points in the last Pulse Asia survey in March.
Gutierrez maintained that Simon was not authorized to offer such an arrangement on behalf of Robredo and her campaign team.
“Whatever conversation he was pursuing, that was purely his own initiative and purely his own call,” he added.
Robredo’s spokesperson said the decision of Domagoso and Lacson to hold a press conference in a hotel in Makati City last Sunday further showed they were no longer interested in forming a coalition among opposition candidates.
“While we remain open to possible conversations on unity in the remaining 19 days until Election Day, it seems that the space for that has narrowed because of the events (last) Sunday,” he added.
Asked if the failure to unite the non-administration forces was a reflection of Robredo’s leadership, he said: “If anything, I think it’s a reflection more on the attitude of the gentlemen who spoke last Sunday.”
“They seem to be still nursing some hurts from what transpired months before. I don’t think that’s a reflection anymore on the vice president’s efforts,” he maintained.
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