MANILA - Even as she thanked those who defended her from statements issued on Sunday against her by her three rivals in the May 9 presidential race, Vice President Leni Robredo said the people's emotions should not get over them and any hurtful remarks should no longer be made.
In a statement issued on her Facebook account late Sunday night, Robredo acknowledged that a lot had been said during the day, which, according to her, either irked and angered some, or were simply dismissed by others.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat na dumipensa. Pero may pakiusap lang ako. Mula bukas, 20 campaign days na lang natitira. Kailangan wag tayong magpatalo sa emosyon," said the presidential aspirant who became a subject of the Easter Sunday press conference of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Sen.Panfilo Lacson and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales at the Manila Peninsula Hotel.
(I thank those who came to my defense. But I just have some requests. From tomorrow, only 20 campaign days are left. We should not let our emotions win over us.)
"Huwag nang magbitaw ng masasakit na salita. Focus lang muna tayo sa kampanya - tao sa tao, puso sa puso. May bayan tayong kailangan ipaglaban," she added.
(Let's not issue hurtful statements anymore. Let's focus on our campaign - people to people, heart to heart. We have a nation we are fighting for.)
Domagoso, Lacson and Gonzales, during their press conference, declared that they are not backing out of Halalan 2022 amid calls for them to withdraw from the race. Instead, the 3, offered themselves as alternatives to the leading candidates, ex-senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Robredo.
The 3 candidates said people associated with Robredo or her camp were asking them to withdraw their candidacies, as well as stripping them of their support groups.
For Lacson, Robredo's efforts to unite the opposition before the filing of candidacies in October last year was supposedly intended to make them all "unite under her."
"I would like to reinforce the statement of Sen. Ping. Yes, I was fooled also in my face by the Vice President. She said so many times, 1,000 times, with all exaggeration, that she will never run for President... We (were) made to believe to unite. But we were fooled literally, in our face. So that kind of person cannot be trusted," Domagoso added.
Endorsed by the 1Sambayan opposition coalition, Robredo had said she decided to run for President because of the crucial need for decent leadership amid the pandemic.
Robredo's running mate, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, said in a separate statement on Sunday that their camp earned the support of people and groups, especially those previously allied with their rivals, because "the momentum and the people are on our side."
"Hindi po namin istilo ni VP Leni ang maneobra ng politiko. Kung bubuksan lamang nila ang kanilang mga mata at pagmasdan nila nang husto ang mga pangyayari, makikita nila na ang lakas ng kampanya namin ni VP Leni ay nanggagaling sa puspusang pagkilos ng taumbayan at hindi sa mga maneobra ng mga pulitiko," he said.
(Political maneuvers are not the style VP Leni and I do. If they only open their eyes and observe the developments properly, they will see that the strength of our campaign comes from the persistent efforts of the people and not the maneuvering of politicians.)
Following an assessment shared by Gonzales that the No. 2 candidate in pre-election surveys may need to give way to those ranked third until sixth if there is a huge margin with the first placer, Domagoso challenged Robredo to pull out of the presidential race instead.
The latest survey, conducted by Pulse Asia in March, showed Robredo in second place after Marcos.
Domagoso ranked third with 8 percent, followed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao with 6 percent, Lacson with 2 percent, and then Faisal Mangondato with 1 percent. Gonzales was at 10th place, with zero percent.
"The same challenge that they're giving us - to Sen. Ping, to Sec. Norberto Gonzales, to Sen. Pacquiao, now we are calling: Be a hero. Withdraw, Leni," said Domagoso, who, in the same survey, emerged as the top second-presidential choice.
While she indirectly dismissed the challenge in her latest statement by stating the need to focus on her campaign, Robredo addressed it in jest through a reply to a comment made on an earlier Facebook post.
"Chill lang. Mahaba pa pila. Choz," she said in response to a netizen who asked, "VP, magkano po nawithraw nyo today sa ATM?"
The call for Robredo to back out is illogical and based on flawed assumptions, said Agusan del Norte 1st Dist. Rep. Lawrence Fortun.
"She is the strongest opposition candidate whose numbers have continued to rise while those of others continue to dwindle," he said.
"The campaign for VP Leni has evolved and snowballed into a nationwide movement against disinformation, deceit, injustice, and corruption. This is the candidacy and campaign that should continue towards victory."
Pangilinan said their camp will not be distracted by smear campaigns by their rivals.
Despite their statements about Robredo, the three presidential candidates said their press conference was not all about her.
They said they are also against a Marcos victory in the presidential race due to fears of destabilization.