MANILA (UPDATE) - Presidential hopeful Norberto Gonzales on Tuesday apologized to Vice President Leni Robredo after his statement encouraging the runner-up in the surveys to withdraw.
The former defense secretary said he was "uncomfortable" when another aspirant, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, called on Robredo to withdraw from the race following his remark.
"If you meet the Vice President, tell her I’m sorry. Yes, I'm apologizing to her because what we need is something better after the elections," he told ANC's Headstart.
"I wasn't comfortable there. Wala sa usapan...Oh yes, you can say that. And I have said that to friends," he added when asked whether he was uncomfortable with Domagoso's call.
Gonzales' apology is "unnecessary," according to Robredo's spokesman lawyer Barry Gutierrez.
"We appreciate the gesture, but an apology is unnecessary. Sanay na kami sa ganyan (We're used to it). We are adults. Di kami nagpapadala sa emosyon(We don't get carried away by emotions)," he said in statement.
"And with 20 days till the elections, we are focused on working doubletime with the People's Campaign. Tuloy lang ang pagkilos (The movement continues). Ipapanalo natin ito (Let's win this)."
The Manila mayor "might have been carried away," Gonzales said.
"There was no agreement whatsoever (to) ask someone to withdraw. Si Mayor Isko medyo natangay siguro sa sentiment. I was actually addressing the public," he said.
"The distance of survey between 1 and 2 is quite big. In a contest like this syempre tinitingnan mo na lang sa contest 'yung 1 and 2...What I'm trying to point out is the possibilities available to the people."
The aim of the press conference, held Sunday morning at the Manila Peninsula, was to unite the presidentiables, Gonzales said.
"This is unprecedented that presidentiables are working together even before campaign ended," he said.
"Dapat kung wala namang dayaan, it's time to think of reconciliation, cooperation, we will work together. Malubha ang problema ng bayan. Ako personally I’m open. Gusto ko sana magretire na pero kung makakatulong bakit hindi. I thought our group of 4 or 5 is the beginning."
(If there's no cheating, it's time to think of reconciliation, cooperation, we will work together. The country's problems are severe. Personally, I'm open. I want to retire but if I can help why not.)
Meantime, Gonzales said Robredo was leaving her door "too open" that it becomes "attractive" to "Reds" or communists.
"I’m not redtagging, All I’m saying is, all kinds of people will be there kasi binuksan mo ang pinto mo eh (because you opened your door), I don't know if they have a screening procedure or not," he said.