MANILA (UPDATE) - Former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Friday he would defend his presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo just as he stood by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez, president of Partido Reporma, announced on Thursday that its leaders were shifting their support to Robredo from Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who resigned as the party's chairman earlier in the day.
Alvarez said he apologized to Robredo during a joint press conference for supporting Duterte administration policies, which he said may not all have been correct.
"Di ko sinasabing tama lahat ng polisyang yun, nagkamali din ako. Kaya ngayon sabi ko naman kay VP Leni, marami akong di magandang nasabi kaya humingi ako ng tawad. Kung ano ang ginawa akong pagdepensa sa 'king kaibigan na si President Duterte ay gagawin ko rin kay VP Leni, manalo matalo man siya," he told ANC's Headstart.
(I'm not saying all those policies were correct, I also made mistakes. That's why I told VP Leni that I apologize for saying unpleasant things. Whether she wins or loses, I will defend VP Leni as I have defended my friend President Duterte.)
"I will try my very best to campaign and make Leni Robredo win as president of the Republic of the Philippines."
Alvarez said he still considered Duterte as his friend despite his 2018 ouster as House Speaker, which installed former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then Pampanga representative, as his replacement.
The President had said the ouster was "maneuvered" by his daughter, vice presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
"Tinuturing ko pa rin siyang (Duterte) isang kaibigan. Sabi ko nga, pakisabi kay Pangulo na siyempre darating ang panahon na 'di na siya nakaupo sa Malacañang, ako naman ay nasa Tagum City lang, pwede pa rin kami magkita, mag-usap at magkuwentuhan," Alvarez said.
(I still consider him a friend. As I said, tell the President that when he's no longer in Malacañang, I'm just in Tagum City, we can always see, talk to each other.)
Duterte-Carpio is the running-mate of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who has topped recent voter surveys.
Alvarez said he believed voters could change their minds about supporting Marcos and the dictatorship of his father and namesake.
"Siguro karamihan, mga kabataan 'di nila alam gaano kalupit ang dekada 80 yung panahon ni Ferdinand Marcos [Sr.], dapat maniwala sila na napakahirap nung panahong iyon. Walang freedom of speech, kinontrol ang mag radio stations at mga pahayagan," said the Davao del Norte first district lawmaker.
(Perhaps many people, particularly the youth don't know how cruel the 80s were under Ferdinand Marcos. They should believe it was a very difficult time. There's no freedom of speech, radio stations and newspapers were controlled.)
"Yung Constitution naman, kung talagang magaling ang namumuno, pwede pa ring lusutan 'yan. Kung talagang president mo gustuhin, wala tayong magagawa dyan."
(If the leader is wily, they can still go around the Constitution. If the president really wants it, we can't do anything about it.)
TEXT MESSAGES WITH PING
Alvarez said he and Lacson discussed through text message the shift of support of the party's Davao del Norte chapter.
"Lahat 'yun text messages lang, exchange of text messages. In-advise ko kasi dito sa probinsiya nag-meeting kami at napagkasunduan ng grupo, yung mga LGUs, na lilipat na suporta kay VP Leni," he said.
(It was all through an exchange of text messages. I advised him that we met here in the province and agreed to shift our support to VP Leni.)
"Nakailang punta rin ako sa Manila 2 weeks ago, nag-usap kami, although 'di ko naman nasabi na diretso. I tried na makipag-appointment kaya lang 'di nagkaroon ng panahon na magkatugma ang schedule namin hanggang umuwi na lang ako sa probinsiya."
(I went to Manila several times, 2 weeks ago. We talked but I was unable to say it directly. I tried to set an appointment, but we had conflicting schedules until I had to return to the province.)
Alvarez added that he had yet to meet with Lacson's running-mate, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, with whom he also talked through text message. Alvarez said he would likely call for a national convention after the elections.
Partido Reporma's support is proof that there's no province or place that Robredo should "simply write off," according to her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.
"The endorsement of Speaker Alvarez and Partido Reporma is proof positive of that na pwede pang magkaroon ng pakikipag-usap at kumbinsihan regardless of previous histories, perceived alliances in this election," he said.
(The endorsement of Speaker Alvarez and Partido Reporma is proof positive that discussions can be made regardless of previous histories, perceived alliances in this election.)
"Many of the advocacies of the Vice President has not been made known to more people. We’re working on that..I’m confident we’re slowly getting our message across and that's reflected in the growing support on the ground."
In the Feb. 18 to 23 survey of Pulse Asia, Marcos scored the backing of 60 percent of likely voters, while Robredo got 15 percent.
Marcos enjoyed the lead across all geographic areas. Robredo meanwhile secured double digit figures in all areas, except in Mindanao, where she got 5 percent, said Pulse Asia.