SURIGAO CITY — Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Monday stressed that his call for Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw was just a “fair” way of giving his rival a dose of her own medicine.
Leni’s camp, he claimed, has been persistently intensifying calls for other candidates to withdraw in the belief that it will make her win against frontrunner Bongbong Marcos.
“It’s just a fair call. Kung ano ang sinabi nila dati, narinig din nila sa sarili nila (Whatever they told us before, they heard it themselves) Nothing unusual,” Isko told reporters upon landing at the Surigao Airport in this Northeastern Mindanao province.
The 47-year-old presidential candidate added that his call is also an “honest” one, pointing out that Leni’s persistent call for withdrawal only points to the brand of elitist politics that he wanted to stamp out if given the chance.
“It’s an honest call. When they were asking us since Day One, ‘withdraw Isko.’ Sa totoo lang, yan ang daing ng ordinaryong Pilipino (In truth, thats what ordinary Filipinos have been resenting). Kapag malaking tao ang nambu-bully, okay lang. Pag ang ordinaryong tao, nangatwiran, bastos o masama na, (If it’s the rich who says it, it’s okay for them. But if it’s the poor, who does it, it’s bad or irreverent)” said the 47-year-old presidential candidate.
“My question is: What is your right to tell us to withdraw? Because you’re somebody who belongs to the elite? And we are just a small political alliance?” Isko asked.
Furthermore, Isko said calls for other candidates to withdraw and casting them to “irrelevance” in order to have a one-on-one showdown between Leni and Bongbong also highlighted the “social injustice” that is prevalent in our present society due to, again, elitist politics.
“That is why there is such a thing as social injustice because ordinary Filipinos feel they do not have a right to talk, more so if these elitists tell them painful things. But, anyway, it’s not for me to demand. It’s just an opinion. Their opinion is as good as mine,” he added.
Isko’s statements followed Sunday’s joint press conference wherein he dared Leni to be a “hero” and do the “supreme sacrifice” like her camp has been calling for him, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and other candidates to do and unite behind VP Leni.
“The same challenge that they’re giving us, to Senator Ping, to Secretary Norberto Gonzales, to Senator Pacquiao. Now we’re calling, be a hero. Withdraw, Leni,” he said during Sunday’s press conference at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.
“Now, I’m calling for Leni to withdraw. Kasi whatever you’re doing is not effective against Marcos. Withdraw, come and join us. Join us. That is what we’re saying Isko said.
In the joint press conference, Isko, Ping and Gonzales affirmed their singular message that there will be no retreat nor surrender and each of them vowing to finish the race. “Isko said, reading from a joint statement which was later signed by the three presidential bets present with Pacquiao concurring in an earlier video call.”
The four presidential aspirants also vowed to defend the rights of the Filipino electorate to select their leader based on their personal choices. They also agreed that they will work with and support whoever is elected president among them in next month’s national elections.
The Aksyon Demokratiko team is now in the Caraga region for their two-day campaigning to reach the people through the motor caravan, town hall meetings and meet-up activities.
Leni on Monday launched separate political rallies in Quezon Province and Marinduque without a counterattack against her rivals, sticking to her belief that she and her supporters should remain focused on campaigning as Election Day draws near.
Leni, however, did not miss her usual practice of reading handmade posters created by her supporters, some of which mocked calls for her to withdraw from the presidential race.
Hilarious campaign materials have become a staple in Leni’s sorties and “Kakampinks” did not disappoint, in what appears to be a retaliation for a slew of tirades launched by her opponents Senator Ping Lacson, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez at a joint press conference on Easter Sunday.
“The woman is here to win, not to withdraw,” one placard read, which Leni shared with the jubilant crowd in Quezon Province.
Another placard read: “VP Leni, withdraw from the ATM, not from the presidential election.”
Leni quipped, “My ATM is now empty.”
In Marinduque, one of her supporters wrote a message asking for allowance.
“Mama Leni, I beg for allowance. I heard that they asked you to withdraw,” the placard read.
But Leni herself made no mention about the quit call from Isko, as she merely reiterated her key messages during her campaign speeches.
These include her appeal to her supporters to work harder to convince “undecided” voters within the remaining three weeks of the campaign period, as well as her promise of pursuing an honest and transparent government that will prioritize those on the fringes of society.
Leni also pledged she would extend help to Filipinos in need even in far-flung areas.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, the opposition candidate had thanked those who stood up for her when the three male candidates ganged up on her during the press conference in which she was not invited, but she urged them to refrain from hurting others in the last stretch of the campaign period.
During the news conference, Isko and Ping said Leni “cannot be trusted” after she had supposedly “fooled” some aspirants into believing that she wanted to unite the opposition and had no interest in vying for the country’s top post.
With reports from MJ BLANCAFLOR