CARLES, Iloilo - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday said he understands Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu's decision to endorse Vice President Leni Robredo's presidential bid, noting that the Mindanaoan politician told him about the shift of support beforehand.
In February, Mangudadatu organized Domagoso's campaign in Maguindanao. But over the weekend, he and the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) declared their support for Robredo.
"I fully support and understand him," Domagoso told reporters when asked for his comment on the development.
"That's how you understand your people. People change their mind," he said.
When asked how Mangudadatu explained their shift to Robredo, Domagoso said in jest: "Ayoko i-share sa iyo, Marites ka."
(I don't want to share it with you because you're a gossiper.)
"It's between us. I fully respect [him]," he said.
Mangudadatu is running for Maguindanao governor under the UBJP, the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has forged a peace agreement with the government. His wife Sharifa's Sultan Kudarat gubernatorial bid is lodged under Domagoso's Aksyon Demokratiko.
In February, Domagoso drew flak for leaving his vice presidential running mate Willie Ong in Manila when he campaigned in Mindanao, where several camps back Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's candidacy for the country's second-highest post.
In that event, Domagoso was hosted by the Mangudadatu family as he campaigned in Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte, and was even welcomed inside the clan's home in Maguindanao.
Despite the political about-face, Domagoso described the Maguindanao Representative as a "decent man."
Domagoso said he is thankful to those whose support remains steadfast two weeks before the elections.
"I'm very grateful sa taongbayan na matitigas ang loob na desidido at tahimik lamang," he said.
"Ang makakapagpanalo, taumbayan. 'Yun ang paniwala ko. Tao ang boboto."
(I'm very grateful to the people who remain steadfast and decided, and are quiet about it. It is the public who can deliver victories. That's what I believe. It is the people who will vote.)
Domagoso ranked third in the latest Pulse Asia presidential preference survey, conducted in March, with 8 percent support from 2,400 respondents, or 2 percentage points down from his rating in February.
Robredo placed second with 24 percent, up by 9 percentage points from her February rating.
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. remained on first place with 56 percent, a 4 percentage points-decrease from his February rating.
Domagoso had challenged Robredo to withdraw from the presidential race. The Vice President dismissed the call.