MANILA - Partido Reporma standard bearer and Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he was "insulted" by Vice President Leni Robredo's alleged attempt to snatch his vice presidential runningmate during unity talks.
Robredo's camp tried to form a tandem with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Lacson said in the online "Pandesal Forum."
"Using hand motion, si Sen. [Franklin] Drilon mismo, tinuro si VP Leni at Tito Sotto na sila magka-tandem," he said.
(Using hand motion, Sen. Drilon pointed to Vice President Leni and Tito Sotto, saying they should form a tandem.)
"The Senate President informed me after our meeting, effectively telling me in my face to withdraw and mag-create ng bagong (create a new) tandem," he said.
"I felt insulted... It's too insulting to say the least na in your face na mag-withdraw (to withdraw)," he said.
"Ako lang ang puwede mag-decide kung magwi-withdraw ako," he said.
(I am the only person who should decide if I should withdraw.)
Lacson said Robredo's unity talks "failed" because he felt that the main objective of the discussions was not to create a unified opposition ticket.
"Kung ang objective talaga unification, unification talaga dapat ang usapan," he said.
(If the objective is unification, the discussions should only focus on unification.)
Lacson said it is too late for him to consider withdrawing from the 2022 presidential race as several supporters have already pledged to back his candidacy.
"We have reached the point of no return," the senator said.
"Maraming high-profile and low-key businessmen who have contributed to our efforts. Marami ring sectors ang involved na sa aming movement," he said.
(There are a lot of high-profile and low-key businessmen who have contributed to our efforts. There are also a lot of sectors involved in our movement.)
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon denied making any gestures insinuating that Robredo and Sotto should run as a tandem for the 2022 national elections.
"I do not recall those hand gestures attributed to me, much less the interpretation accorded to it," Drilon said in a statement.
"I have no further comment," he said.
Robredo's spokesperson Barry Gutierrez declined to comment, saying he was not present during the said meeting.
Lacson's Partido Reporma has coalesced with Sotto's Nationalist People's Coalition, and Ronaldo Puno's National Unity Party for next year's polls.
The group expects to field 14 senatorial candidates, even if there are only 12 slots up for grabs in the Senate, Lacson said.
"We didn't know that Senators [Richard] Gordon and [Sherwin] Gatchalian will file for the Senate," he said.
Gordon earlier considered running for president, while Gatchalian initially wanted to run for vice president should Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio vie for the presidency.
"Wala kaming nakikitang masama o mali kung 14 yung aming ipu-pursue," Lacson said.
(We don't see anything wrong with pursuing 14 candidates.)
"Mabuti na yung sobra kaysa kulang-kulang (It is better to have more than enough)... It will be the electorate who will choose the final 12."