MANILA - Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Monday warned several political supporters that forcing others to back a certain candidate may be counterproductive, saying he does not believe that it is "the right approach to convince people" to rally behind the Philippines' next president.
The 32-year-old mayor gave the statement days after he trended on social media after several netizens urged him to endorse a presidential candidate, while others scorned him for refusing to meddle in national politics.
"Ang pulitika, ang eleksyon, dapat kumbinsihan yan so let's convince each other in a civilized manner, in a polite manner," Sotto told ABS-CBN News Digital in a chance interview.
"Baka natu-turn off 'yung ibang tao sa kanila dahil sa attitude nila na, 'Kapag hindi namin kayo kasama, masamang tao kayo,'" he said.
(Politics and elections should be about convincing people so let's each other in a civilized manner, in a polite manner. Other people might be turned off with their attitude that they label people who are not with them as evil.)
"I don't think that's the right approach to convince people to vote for your candidate."
Sotto did not name any presidential candidate, but a quick search on Twitter would show that Vice President Leni Robredo's supporters have been egging the Pasig City Mayor to either publicly back Robredo's candidacy or denounce the presidential bid of former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Last year, Sotto - who also sits as Aksyon Demokratiko's executive vice president - said that he would not campaign for any national candidate as he prefers to focus on winning his second mayoralty term in Pasig City.
Sotto had said that his hands-off policy has been communicated to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, his uncle who is running for vice president, and the leadership of his political party, which is backing the presidential bid of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.
"I'm not staying silent. I'm standing on my conviction. So kung maintindihan ng iba, good. Kung hindi naiintindihan ng iba, sorry na lang ako," he said.
(I'm not staying silent, I'm standing on my conviction. If some can understand that, good. If others cannot, then I'm sorry for myself.)
"Wala naman silang masasabi sa akin. Hindi nila puwede sabihin na duwag ako kasi tinaya ko ang buhay ko para magpakilala ng pagbabago sa Pasig," he said.
"Kung tatawagin naman nila akong trapo, baka wala nang hindi trapo sa buong Pilipinas so bahala na sila. Okay na 'yun."
(They cannot anything against me. They cannot call me a coward because I placed my life on the line to introduce reforms in Pasig. If they will call me a traditional politician, then all politicians in the Philippines are traditional politicians so it's up to them. I'm okay with that.)
Sotto rose to power in 2019 when he ended the 27-year rule of the Eusebio dynasty in Pasig.
The mayor - who was named by the United States State Department as an "anticorruption champion' - has repeatedly said that he needs to focus on Pasig City, underscoring that a single mayoralty term is not enough to end deeply-rooted corruption in Metro Manila's 4th richest city.
"'Yung mga nakakaintindi sa pulitika namin sa Pasig, 'yung mga leaders sa Pasig, 'yung staff ko, mga core team natin, some of them are Leni supporters, there are also BBM supporters, but none of them are pressuring me and none of them are even asking me to endorse kasi kami naiintindihan namin kung saan kami nanggagaling bilang isang lungsod," he said.
(Thos who understand politics in Pasig, leaders in Pasig, my staff, my core team, some of them are Leni supporters, there are also BBM supporters, but none of them are pressuring me and none of them are even asking me to endorse because we understand where we are coming from as a city.)
"Basta I'm doing what I'm doing based on my principles, based on my convictions and based on where we are coming from as a city, yung history namin (our history)," he said.
"I don't need to explain myself lalo na sa ibang tao. Basta tatayuan ko ito. Ito yung paniniwala ako, maninindigan ako."
(I don't need to explain myself especially to other people. But I will stay firm on this. This is my belief and I will stand by it.)