MANILA — Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday said three of his fellow presidential contenders strayed from their goal of calling for unity in a press conference when it ended with a call for their rival Vice President Leni Robredo's withdrawal from the May polls.
“Iyong press con na iyon, [ay para sa] pagkakaisa na magkaroon ng malinis na halalan,” Pacquiao said in a chance interview upon his arrival at the Laoag City International Airport.
(That press con is supposed to be a call for unity to ensure clean elections)
“Wala sa usapan iyong manira tayo ng tao at saka magsasabing mag-withdraw ka,” added the PROMDI party standard bearer.
(There was no agreement to criticize anybody and demand withdrawal.)
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales during the Easter Sunday event criticized Robredo for allegedly asking rivals to drop out of the race to give her a better chance of beating survey frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Her camp denied this.
Pacquiao said a delay in his flight from General Santos City led to his unintentional no-show at the Manila Peninsula Hotel press conference.
He said he would not have accepted the invitation to the event if he knew it would lambast anyone.
“'Pag guided ka ng Panginoon, ang Panginoon gagawa ng paraan para protektahan ka,” Pacquiao, a devout Christian, said when asked if he considered his absence from the press con a good decision.
(If you are guided by God, He will make a way to protect you.)
Pacquiao, who is also the standard bearer of a PDP-Laban faction, said he had yet to read the manifesto signed during the press conference.
The former boxing champion said he was also urged to give up his Malacañang bid and unite with Robredo to forestall a Marcos presidency. He did not say who made the appeal.
But he said he politely turned down the proposal, added that with the exception of God, nothing could stop him from pursuing the presidency to further help the country’s poor.