By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor
MANILA – Their united front quickly broke apart even before their joint presscon ended.
Presidential bets Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson and Norberto Gonzales tried to present a picture of unity during their Easter Sunday presscon at the Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City, but Moreno’s call for Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw from the race was immediately rejected by Lacson moments after the Manila mayor’s unexpected demand.
Lacson said he was blindsided by Moreno’s statement, which the senator said was done without his knowledge or permission.
Gonzales also rejected Moreno’s call the day after the presscon, publicly apologizing to Robredo.
“If you meet the vice president, tell her I’m sorry,” Gonzales told reporters on Monday, Apr 18, adding “I wasn’t comfortable there. Wala sa usapan (it was never discussed).”
Even Moreno appeared to backtrack on his call by saying it was not planned, and he may have been caught up in the moment. He clarified in a media interview that his call for Robredo to withdraw was his and his alone.
A fourth presidential bet, Senator Manny Pacquiao, was supposed to attend the presscon according to Moreno, but the boxer-turned-politician failed to show up.
A source close to Pacquiao told Philippine News Today that their camp was against joining the presscon as there was no clear reason for holding the media event.
Pacquiao, the source said, “had no intention” of attending the presscon.
Moreno said Pacquiao had to leave for General Santos City but was on a plane headed for the presscon. In fact, reliable sources said that Pacquiao was not out of town and had no plan to issue a statement stating that he also wanted to Robredo to withdraw.
Pacquiao’s running mate, Lito Atienza, quoted the senator as asking, “Why should I go there?” adding that what was told them and what was said during the event were two different things, with an obviously questionable agenda.
Social media was buzzing with comments, mostly making fun of the ill-fated presscon and belittling Moreno’s call for the second placer in most surveys – Robredo — to give way to any of the trio in attendance, who are all faring poorly in the surveys.
Moreno appeared to be the worst hit among the trio after more members of his Aksyon Demokratiko issued a statement lambasting his call, then announcing that they were leaving the party.
A group of Islamic leaders who had earlier pledged to support Moreno also switched sides on Monday, saying they were now supporting Robredo’s presidential bid.
Meanwhile, Robredo’s camp is planning a rally on Saturday, Apr. 23 at the reclamation area in Pasay City, near the Mall of Asia. The rally will coincide with the vice president’s 57th birthday. An estimated crowd of 500,000 is expected.