PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson, Sr. on Thursday said he is fighting to the end for his candidacy as he rejected the call of a rival’s vice-presidential bet for him to withdraw.
“For the nth time, I will finish this race and I am not backing out. I reject the call of Rep. Jose Atienza for me to withdraw from the presidential race,” he told reporters, according to a transcript of his press briefing in Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte.
“What he did is uncalled for — rude, to say the least,” Mr. Lacson said. “Who is he to tell me to withdraw? He has no personality.”
Mr. Atienza, a party-list solon, said on Thursday he was seriously considering his withdrawal from the May 9 elections to give his presidential candidate, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Sr., a higher chance of winning by partnering with Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, the running mate of Mr. Lacson.
He then called on Mr. Lacson to do the same.
“I’m praying and hoping (for) Ping (to back out). He already knows the realities of his political position,” Mr. Atienza said.
Mr. Pacquiao has said that if his partner’s medical problem persists, he is not discounting the possibility of a Manny-Sotto alliance.
However, the boxer-turned-politician acknowledged that such a scenario was still far-fetched.
Mr. Sotto, meanwhile, told the media via Viber that he was “humbled and will certainly appreciate such a move,” referring to Mr. Atienza’s hint of endorsement.
Mr. Lacson said while he felt insulted by Mr. Atienza’s comments as it was done without consultation, he noted his support for his running mate.
“Anything that will boost his (Mr. Sotto’s) candidacy, I’m all for it. If anyone will adopt him as their vice-presidential candidate, so be it. I will welcome it because I know where he stands, I know where I stand,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lacson said that attendance in rallies does not necessarily equate to votes on election day as some participants are simply paid to join campaign events.
He said he himself has been approached by a certain operator asking if he was interested in increasing the number of people going to his rallies for a fee of P500 per person.
“That’s the reality on the ground and most candidates know that,” Mr. Lacson said. “We cannot blame the people because they have to earn as they are coming from the pandemic.”
Mr. Lacson said they are sticking to their campaign strategy that is more focused on sectoral dialogues and town hall meetings.
“Whatever happens, our consolation would be that we contributed to correcting the culture of politics to make it issue-based and not politics of entertainment,” he added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan