MANILA - Presidential contender Sen. Panfilo Lacson rejected on Thursday the call of vice presidential candidate Lito Atienza to withdraw from the May national elections.
The running-mate of presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Atienza earlier said he was considering backing out of the race and was "hoping" Lacson would do the same.
Atienza said if quits the race, he wanted Lacson's running-mate Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III to team up with Pacquiao.
"For the nth time, I’ll finish this race and I’m not backing out," Lacson said. "I suggest that Lito Atienza should go back to school and study GMRC (good manners and right conduct)... Who is he to tell me to withdraw?"
"That’s kabastusan to say the least, for somebody like him na mas matanda pa sa akin na magsasabing mag-back out ang isang kandidato without even consulting, that’s insulting,” Lacson said in press conference in Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte.
(That's rude to say the least, for somebody like him who is older than me to urged a candidate to back out without even consulting.)
WHAT ATIENZA SAID
Atienza, who is recuperating from surgery following a foot injury, said earlier in the day that he was "very seriously" considering withdrawing from the vice presidential race.
"I can handle the health reasons. As you said, I can do my campaign via Zoom. But the thing is, if it's not helping anymore to a man like Manny Pacquiao, he should be given a clean break," the Buhay party-list representative told reporters.
He said a Pacquiao-Sotto tandem "could completely demolish" the team-up of presidential contender Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his running-mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
"I'm praying and hoping Ping—he already knows the realities of his political position—I hope he backs out, too, and that could change the whole structure," Atienza said.
"'Pag nagkaroon ng (once there is) national sentiment for a Pacquiao-Sotto tandem, that could catch fire and it could consume the Sara-Bongbong myth," he added.
Sotto in a statement on Thursday said he and Lacson "have set our sights to May 9."
"Endorsements and help are most welcome," Sotto added.
Lacson said he would not stop his running-mate from joining Pacquiao’s campaign rallies should the latter decide to support Sotto for vice president.
"Anything that will boost his candidacy I’m all for it… Kung meron mag-a-adopt sa kanya (if someone adopts him) as their vice presidential candidate, so be it. I welcome it because I know where he stands, I know where I stand,” Lacson said.
"I will not prevent SP (Senate President) Sotto from attending any of Manny Pacquiao's rally... as long as he endorses only me, kasi iyon ang usapan namin (because that was our agreement)," he added.
ESTATE TAX, VOTE-BUYING, MACHIAVELLI
Meanwhile, Lacson said he supports President Duterte’s call for the Bureau of Internal Revenue to collect a certain unpaid estate tax.
While Duterte did not name anyone, the BIR confirmed it was trying to collect an estate tax debt that has ballooned to P203 billion from the Marcos family.
“Dapat lang talaga singilin kundi lalaki pa nang lalaki 'yan... P203 billion can do so many things para sa ating mga kababayan, para sa ating bansa. Ang laki ng utang natin, ang laki ng gastusin natin sa pandemic," Lacson said.
(That should be collected, otherwise, it will just get bigger. P203 billion can do so much for our compatriots, for our country. Our debt is huge, our pandemic expenses are big.)
Lacson also called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be "more aggressive" in implementing poll laws, including those against vote-buying.
"Para saan pa ang pinasa nating Comelec laws, sa election code kung 'di ipapatupad? 'Yan ang problema sa bansa natin. Saganang-sagana sa batas, kulang na kulang sa implementasyon," he said.
(What else is the use of passing Comelec laws if we do not implement them? That is the problem with our country. There are so many laws, the implementation is sorely lacking.)
During his town hall meeting in Kalawit, Lacson was also asked if was a Machiavellian.
Quoting the philosopher Niccoo Machiavelli, Lacson replied, "If I cannot be both, I’d rather be feared than loved."
"Kailangan natin ng disiplina... Mas gusto ko na yung takot sa akin ang tauhan ko para hindi gumawa ng masama," he added.
(We need discipline. I would prefer if my subordinates fear me so that they would not do anything wrong.)
He continued, "Pero yung sinasabing the end justifies the means, malaki ang reservation ko doon. Hindi pwedeng 'yung end will justify the means, ibig sabihin maski anong means gagawin mo para ma-justify ang end, hindi po ako sang-ayon doon."
(But when it comes to the saying the end justifies the means, I have great reservation on that. The end cannot justify the means, meaning you will do anything to justify the end, I do not agree with that.)
“So ako Machiavellian, pero qualified. Depende sa kanyang teachings, sa kanyang quotes at depende sa message na gusto niyang i-impart sa akin,” he added.
(So I am Machiavellian, but qualified. It depends on the teaching, quotes, and the message that he wants to impart.)