Presidential bets 'frustrated' over failed opposition unity talks but still open if invited

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Presidential bets 'frustrated' over failed opposition unity talks but still open if invited
This composite photo shows presidential bets Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
Senate PRIB / Voltaire Domingo | Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena | Facebook / Isko Moreno Domagoso

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential bets expressed frustration over the result of the opposition's unification talks before the filing of candidacy for the 2022 elections but said they would be open to take part in unification talks again should the opportunity arise. 

At the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews aired over GMA News late Saturday evening, presidential candidates Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno were asked how they felt about the failed unity talks before the filing period. 

Robredo, who described herself as a presidential candidate who is open to working with anyone, said she was frustrated when a broad and united opposition did not happen. 

“We were successful in uniting so many different groups that were not politicians even if they were not in our party... If I was chosen, I would be their candidate. If I wasn’t chosen, I would support their choice," she said, referring to opposition coalition 1Sambayan. 

But is a united opposition still possible with the elections already three months away? "It’s going to be harder now because we’ve all filed and we all have our funding sources, but it’s not impossible. I hope we can grab the opportunity to unite."

Ahead of the filing of her candidacy, Robredo — who has long been recognized as the de facto leader of the opposition — said that there ought to be just one candidate fielded against the administration's bet. The vice president earlier met with all three candidates who eventually formalized their bids for the country's top post. 

Asked about her ties to the Liberal Party despite her decision to run independently, Robredo said: "I never left the Liberal Party but I am running independently because we hope to convey the message that we are open to everyone... The journey is long but I think I made the right decision."

Robredo went as far as saying that she would vote for Pacquiao if she was not in the race. Pacquiao was one of the first ones she approached for a possible alliance, a move that other opposition groups questioned given Pacquiao's close relationship with the administration earlier.

"I know him personally, and I know that he is a very sincere person,” she said in Filipino.

'Opposition for one candidate'

Lacson, for his part, said that he went into unification talks wanting concrete proposals on how to unify the administration opposition. 

"The problem was it didn’t strike me that way... And I had concrete unification proposals were rejected outright and didn’t go through," he said. 

Towards the end of 2021, Robredo said that Lacson's proposal was to agree to withdraw their candidacies at a certain time and support whoever has a better showing in election surveys. She said she rejected this proposal. 

"I still have a chance. We have to hold on to hope. I’m always inspired by my supporters. It so happens that there’s still three months to go. In the course of time we’re making adjustments but anything can happen before then," Lacson also said Saturday when asked about his chances. 

READ: Robredo on supposed Lacson unification proposal: I can't run and then withdraw

Moreno had a more strident critique of the opposition when he was asked about it. 

"If it’s going to be talked about, then I will join. But if they’re just going to be talking about unification for one candidate, then they can just talk amongst themselves," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"The unification they’re talking about is only to benefit themselves as politicians. The unification I want is unification for the people."

Bets dodge question on opposition

Moreno has long positioned himself as a moderate and has ridden the fence between supporting the administration and opposing it. 

The Manila chief could not give a categorical answer when asked whether he was part of the opposition or the administration. Asked where his loyalties lie, Moreno simply said: "the people." 

"Duterte did many things that can be copied and continued. But the things he did that weren’t very good, they should be criticized," he said. He did not specify what these were. 

READ: ‘I can work with anybody’: Moreno positions as moderate at launch of Palace bid

Moreno had previously been supportive of the administration's programs and policies, including its "war on drugs" and dolomite white sand beach in Manila Bay. However, he has also been a vocal critic of the administration's face shield rule in the city of Manila. 

Most recently, he admitted he would welcome President Rodrigo Duterte into his Senate slate with open arms, months after the tensions first flared between the two. 

"I don’t need a brand, that’s just something you sell as a candidate. That's something a scriptwriter wrote for you when should be selling what you’ve done and your proof of what you can do," Moreno also said. 

Pacquiao and Lacson had a similar angle when asked the same question. The latter said he "praises what is right, but criticizes what is wrong."

Pacquiao for his part said he just "doesn't agree with bad things" and that the law should be implemented. Neither of them specified which policies they disagreed with. 

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 2, 2022 - 12:03pm

Follow this thread for updates on the aspirants for local and national posts in the May 2022 elections. — Main photo by The STAR/Boy Santos

May 2, 2022 - 12:03pm

Former senator Bongbong Marcos, with 56%, maintains his lead in the Pulse Asia pre-election survey conducted from April 16 to 21.

Vice President Leni Robredo ranks second with 23% followed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao with 7%.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno ranks fourth with 4% and Sen. Ping Lacson is in fifth place with 2%.

February 13, 2022 - 4:12pm

The latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey shows that former senator Bongbong Marcos remains the top choice of 60% of Filipinos for president.

Vice President Leni Robredo ranks second with 16%, followed by boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno with 8% each.

Sen. Ping Lacson is in the fifth place with 4%. The poll was conducted from January 19 to 24 using face-to-face interviews.

February 8, 2022 - 8:27am

Larry Gadon, a candidate for senator, is accused of violating Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act after he was seen in a viral video cursing at a journalist, according to a report by ABS-CBN.

The complaints, which include libel and cyberlibel charges, were filed by freelance investigative journalist Raissa Robles. Gadon had accused her of spreading fake news in a separate video.

The Supreme Court last month suspended Gadon for profanities he hurled at Robles in the earlier video.

January 30, 2022 - 11:26am

Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan will hold their proclamation rally in Naga City, Camarines Sur on February 8, campaign manager Erin Tanada says.

Tanada adds that the opposition camp will also hold proclamation rallies in different areas in Bicol region on from February 8 to 9.

All 12 senatorial bets endorsed by Robredo are also invited to the event.

January 29, 2022 - 10:18am

Makabayan coalition holds press briefing on their endorsement of the tandem of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan. — Xave Gregorio

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