Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, who had earlier hinted at his withdrawal from the vice-presidential race, clarified on 4 April that he did not mean to insult presidential candidate Ping Lacson whom he asked to pull out from the race.
It was only “a suggestion,” said Atienza.
“Ping will not withdraw. I don’t want to shout that out because Ping is also my friend. That’s why I was surprised by his reaction that I was insulting him,” Atienza said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“Ping, I did not insult you. The insult may have just come from your imagination. I merely made a suggestion and friends are free to make suggestions. There’s no insult there,” he added.
Atienza, who has been unable to campaign with his presidential running mate Manny Pacquiao due to a knee problem, said that he only mentioned Ping’s name in relation to vice-presidential bet Tito Sotto.
“If he is not the partner of Tito Sotto, I would not even mention his name,” said Atienza.
The verbal tussle between Lacson and Atienza started with the former’s blunt response to the latter’s call to withdraw from the presidential race.
Lacson told Atienza to “go back to school and study good manners and right conduct.”
Atienza noted that in the event Lacson withdraws from the presidential race, he will follow suit and personally campaign for a Pacquiao-Sotto tandem.
“For me, the withdrawal of Lacson would clear the realignment of the Pacquiao-Sotto [tandem] without anybody getting affected,” Atienza said.
He also clarified he would only continue his initial plan to withdraw if it would lead to a “realignment of forces. But if it will not cause anything and I will merely desert the side of Pacquiao, no.”