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What Was That Easter Sunday Presser Supposed to Be About Exactly?

It wasn't actually a call for Robredo's withdrawal, said Lacson.
IMAGE OFFICE OF SENATOR PANFILO LACSON

All eyes were on Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales, as well as vice presidential bets Sen. Tito Sotto and Dr. Willie Ong, for their surprise press conference on Easter Sunday, April 17. What followed was what most claim was a joint call urging Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw from the race.

At least for Moreno, it was. Lacson, on the other hand, says otherwise.

“We are not asking anybody to withdraw. Ayaw din namin na mananawagan sila na mag-withdraw kami in the same manner,” Lacson told reporters during an interview at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City. “I want to correct that impression, baka mamaya may impression na this presscon is about telling Vice President Leni to withdraw. No, not at all."

Nevertheless, the three presidential candidates released a joint statement that reaffirmed their commitment to finishing the race. The three also criticized Robredo and her camp for alleged calls for them to withdraw. All three have consistently trailed Robredo and frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. in the polls.

The joint presser was supposedly a call for voter literacy. "Higit pa man sa resulta ng isang halalan, mas pinaiiral natin dapat ang kalayaan ng ating taumbayan na pumili ng kanilang mga magiging lider," the statement said.

They also vowed that they would accept whoever the Filipino voting public would elect as president and that they would be joining forces to fight any attempt to distort the true determination of the people.

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Not in attendance was Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, whose name can also be seen in the joint statement. However, he left it unsigned.

"We want to enlighten our voters na 'wag kayo magpadala sa deception. 'Wag kayo magpadala sa propaganda," Lacson said. The senator also expressed his frustration on repeated calls for him to withdraw.

Gonzales, who was Defense Secretary under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shared the same sentiments. He told reporters that a few close friends of his asked him to consider taking a step back. Apart from that, he seemed to align with Moreno's call.

Gonzales added that the people need a "new number two," saying that, to prevent a Marcos presidency, another candidate not named Robredo should run. He also asserted that voters didn't want to choose between frontrunner Marcos and Robredo.

Moreno added: “If you are not a good player to win, then you pay the supreme sacrifice, you withdraw. The same challenge they’re giving us… now we’re calling [on her]. Be a hero. Withdraw, Leni.”

When asked if the press conference exhibited "macho politics," Moreno replied: "This is not about being a woman or man. This is all about character. It has nothing to do with gender."

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Robredo, meanwhile, was off meeting Sumilao farmers in her hometown of Naga City, together with her daughters, Aika, Tricia, and Jillian. Robredo has been a staunch supporter of the Sumilao farmers ever since they marched to Malacañang in 2007 for their ancestral domain claims.

In a statement by Robredo Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez, the camp put forward: "But in making these choices, 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."

He concluded: "We are thankful that the alignments have been made even clearer. And we remain focused on showing our people that a Robredo presidency will mean a victory for all Filipinos."

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About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is the assistant section editor of Esquire Philippines.
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