Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday admitted feeling “insulted” after his second “unification” meeting with Vice President Leni Robredo, saying he felt he was being told to withdraw from the presidential race.
During the Pandesal Forum on Thursday, Lacson recalled the second meeting he had with Robredo together with Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Robredo was with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon at the time, Lacson noted.
“After our second meeting with the Vice President Robedo and Sen. Drilon…I felt that, you know, hindi naman talaga unification ang intention o yung objective (unification wasn’t really the intention or objective),” he said.
Lacson said Sotto told him after the meeting that Drilon was supposedly making hand gestures towards Robredo and Sotto.
“Tinuro niya si VP Leni saka si Senate President Sotto na sila yung magka-tandem (He pointed to Robredo and Sotto that they run as a tandem) in my face. It’s good that I did not notice it. I was only informed by the SP after our meeting,” Lacson said.
“Sabi niya ‘Di mo ba napansin? Na yung dalawang daliri ni Frank nakaturo sa aming dalawa.’ Parang effectively, telling me, in my face, to withdraw and mag-create ng bagong tandem between the Vice President and the Senate President,” he added.
(He said ‘did you not notice? Frank’s fingers were pointing to the two of us.’ It’s like effectively telling me, in my face, to withdraw and to create a new tandem between the Vice President and the Senate President.)
The presidential aspirant said this did not sit well with him and it could have prompted him to walk out from the meeting had he seen it himself.
“When I was told [about] that. I felt insulted, had I noticed that when it happened I could’ve have stoop up and left that meeting,” Lacson said.
“Because sakin it’s too insulting to say the least na in your face na sabihin sa’yo na mag-withdraw. Ako lang ang pwedeng mag-decide kung magwi-withdraw ako. No other person because ito na yung desisyon ko,” he added.
(Because for me, it’s too insulting to say the least, in your face, to say you should withdraw. Only I can decide whether or not to withdraw. No other person because I have already decided.)
Lacson maintained he would push through with his candidacy.
“Ang sagot ko nga kay Sen. Drilon noon ‘we have reached the point of no return.’ Because ang dami nang na-involve sa amin, I mentioned some names, sabi ko maraming high profile and low-key businessmen who already have contributed in our efforts. Marami ring mga sectors na nainvolve na sa aming advocacy or sa aming movement,” Lacson said.
(I told Sen. Drilon at the time ‘we have reached the point of no return.’ Because many people have already been involved with us, I mentioned some names, I said a lot of high profile and low-key businessmen who already have contributed in our efforts. Many sectors are already involved in our advocacy or movement.)
“At this point in time, I don’t think we can still entertain the thought of withdrawing in favor of [someone else],” he added.
Asked for comment, Drilon said he does not recall making such hand gestures during the meeting.
“The meeting was held as part of the effort of VP Leni to unify the opposition. I do not recall those hand gestures attributed to me, much less the interpretation accorded to it,” Drilon said in a message to reporters.
INQUIRER.net has sought the comment of Robredo’s camp but has yet to receive a response as of writing.
In the first meeting with Robredo in July, Lacson offered a “sure unification formula” but it was “rejected outright” by the vice president.
“I made a suggestion, sure unification formula, but unfortunately or fortunately, it was rejected outright….and then during the second meeting, doon ko talaga na-confirm na yung (it was confirmed there that the) unification effort is only to unify under them, nothing more,” Lacson went on.
Lacson earlier said he suggested that all candidates file their candidacies first in October and then withdraw at a certain point in the election race once the strongest candidate emerges as determined by survey ratings.
Included in Lacson’s proposal is for Sotto to become their common vice presidential candidate.
Robredo, for her part, had said she opposed Lacson’s offer because of her “personal belief” that she should follow through with her presidential bid until the end, even if she ranks low in surveys.