MANILA - Senator Francis 'Kiko' Pangilinan on Friday said he was willing to give up his vice-presidential bid to support the impending tandem of his Liberal Party (LP) partymates, Senators Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino and Manuel 'Mar' Roxas II.
Pangilinan met with Pampanga Gov. 'Among' Ed Panlilio, who announced Friday morning that he was giving up his presidential bid to support the son of the late former President Cory Aquino.
Pangilinan, husband of Megastar actress Sharon Cuneta, said he has no qualms about abandoning his vice-presidential campaign even if Noynoy will be choosing Roxas as his running mate in next year's elections.
"If that has to be done so that we can strengthen the winning chances of Senator Aquino, I am willing to give way. I am willing to make a sacrifice," he said.
He admitted that he became an inactive member of the LP due to differences of opinion with Roxas, which is why he launched an independent bid for the country's second highest post.
When asked whether he would still back out and support Noynoy even if Noynoy chooses Roxas as his running mate, Pangilinan said, "Yes, even if it's Senator Roxas."
Bigger than the party
Pangilinan declined to comment on the statements made by broadcaster Korina Sanchez, the fiancée of Roxas. Sanchez had said in a radio interview early this week that she was instrumental in Pangilinan's entry into ABS-CBN's Hoy Gising, which is why she cannot understand why he was allegedly discreetly supporting Nacionalista Party bet Senator Manuel Villar.
Pangilinan added that the issues now are "bigger than the party."
"I would rather that we focus on the challenge of uniting. We can always focus on our differences and dwell on it, but that will not help Senator Aquino's bid," he said.
Pangilinan said he would back the formation of a multi-sectoral group that would help the presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino. The groups have not decided on who to support for vice-president.
Aside from Panlilio, Pangilinan also met with singer Jim Paredes and local leaders who have expressed support for Noynoy.
They expressed hope that Noynoy would heed the challenge of running in 2010 so that it would help inspire many citizens who are losing hope in the Philippines.
Pangilinan said he believes Noynoy deserved to be president, and that there was a bandwagon for his candidacy.
The pro-Noynoy reformist groups urged citizens to light candles everyday at 6 pm until September 9, the 40th day since Mrs. Aquino's death, to help Noynoy decide.
Noynoy really reformist?
Meanwhile, the Office of the President said it recognizes the impact caused by Roxas' withdrawal of his bid, and the possible presidential run of Noynoy.
Asked to comment on the Noynoy bandwagon, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said, "Yes, it is a significant political development which is healthy viewed in the context of participatory or even reformative politic."
However, he said it was not yet clear whether Noynoy's platform would really be "reformist."
"Obviously, Governors Panlilio and [Grace] Padaca consider him as such, others may not. But I think the fruit of the pudding it still in the eating, so I may not have any conclusion on the matter itself but to manifest a genuine respect for this Noynoy political phenomenon that we are seeing today," Remonde said.
He also expressed doubt the opposition will be able to rally behind Noynoy.
"Mukhang di mangyayari yan. Because ang balita ko, si dating Pangulong Erap ay di natitinag. Ang balita ko, si Villar ay di matitinag. Ang balita ko, even si Brother Eddie Villanueva is still very much running so siguro hindi pa natin nakikita yan." -- reports from Willard Cheng, Jing Castañeda, and Maricar Bautista, ABS-CBN News