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Isko Moreno calls on VP Leni to withdraw from Eleksyon 2022 presidential race

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Sunday called on Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw her candidacy for president, saying that she only ran to prevent the Marcos family from returning to Malacañang.

In a joint press conference, Moreno offered himself anew as an alternative candidate if Filipinos want “peace of mind.”

“On top of your problem, our problem as a country and as a citizen at problema ng ating pamilya araw-araw, at the very least I can give you peace of mind--kapanatagan. Time to move on,” he said.

Moreno stressed that Robredo should make the “supreme sacrifice” to beat frontrunner former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the presidential race.

“Kung meron mang supreme sacrifice, 'yung number 2 (sa survey) should do and start. Let Leni withdraw. Withdraw, Leni, if you love your country,” said Moreno.

“I’m calling for Leni to withdraw. Whatever you’re doing is not effective against the Marcoses. Withdraw, come and join us. Pwede pa-sub? Pa-sub naman. Baka kami maka-3 points, isa sa amin,” he added.

In a statement, Robredo’s spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez said they are thankful that the alignments have been made “even clearer,” and that Robredo's camp will now focus on showing Filipinos that her presidential bid will mean victory on May 9.

“With three weeks to go before election day, we are at a time of great momentum for our People’s Campaign, and increasing clarity as regards which candidates can count on the people's support when they enter voting booths on May 9,” Gutierrez pointed out.

He noted that every candidate has a prerogative to continue their candidacy until the end, with the same choice for them to disregard surveys, rally attendance, endorsements, or any other conventional measure of support.

“We wish every candidate, who decides to push through to the end, only the best," Gutierrez said.

But he added, "In making these choices, should we not ask ourselves: Must this assertion be made through bluster and falsehood? Who benefits from such theatrics? What is best for the Filipino people? Perhaps, silence would have had more depth; at the very least, it would exhibit less self-entitlement, fragility, and toxicity."

Presidential candidates Senator Panfilo Lacson, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno held a press conference on Sunday during which they announced that they would unite and not withdraw their respective presidential bids three weeks before the May 9 polls.

They also vowed to serve the government of whomever of them would win the race.

“Kami, pangalawa ay magsasanib pwersa upang labanan ang anumang pagtatangka upang baluktutin ang totoong pagpapasya ng taumbayan sa pamamagitan ng paggalaw na hindi kanais-nais o maglilimita sa malayang pagpili ng ating kababayan,” Moreno said, reading from their joint statement. 

“Hinding hindi kami magbibitiw sa kampanya. Ang bawat isa sa amin ay magpapatuloy sa aming mga sariling kandidatura upang maging karapat-dapat na pagpilian ang sambayanan,” he added.

Partido Reporma previously announced its backing of the presidential candidacy of Robredo, shortly after its standard-bearer, Lacson, resigned from the party.

Meanwhile, a chapter of the volunteer group Ikaw Muna (IM) Pilipinas who initially supported the candidacy of Moreno also recently shifted to endorsing Robredo.

Robredo had met with Moreno, Pacquiao, and others planning to run for president and vice president in the hopes of forging a united opposition.

However, both Moreno and Robredo ended up joining the 2022 presidential race.

Scared of the No. 2

Meanwhile, a faction of Ikaw Muna Pilipinas (IM Pilipinas) expressed disappointment with the presidential bets who urged Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw her Eleksyon 2022 presidential bid.

"Where is the gentleman in your being an officer, Sir Senator Lacson? Where is the decency in the rags-to-riches lessons you have gone through, Mayor Yorme and with Secretary Gonzales, we are not surprised," the faction said in a statement.

The IM Pilipinas group lamented that they were now forced to defend Robredo, insisting that their call for unity was never influenced by her.

The group also argued that Moreno, Lacson, and Gonzales had, "with their unwitting rhetorics," become Marcos' greatest allies.

"It seems to us you are more scared of the No. 2 than the No. 1. Your decision not to withdraw is your God-given right but where is your duty to God and country?" IM Pilipinas asked.

"And Mayor Isko, it pains us sincerely that you allude to us of being paid? Is that how you perceive all the help that you got from us? For someone who has not thanked us despite the voluntary help we have given to you, now we understand and regret whatever admiration we had for you," they said.

"One thing missing in your Easter drama. You all mentioned all about yourselves and how you all felt but never about how the Filipino people felt and fared in this. Sarili muna. Nakalimutan ang tao," they added.

Nothing wrong with unity call

The group also reiterated that there was nothing wrong with the call for unity. However, they noted that the call pivoted to Robredo because her numbers were rapidly surging.

"She is our best bet and we thought you would understand that you would be doing a great service to our country to have a united front," they said.

“Imagine an administration having the hands-on, can-do bravado of Yorme, the good governance of Ping, the sense of masses of Sen. Pacquiao all united with VP Leni as the unifying motherly leader of our nation? Can we not wish for the best, the dream team for our country?”

Despite rejecting their call, IM Pilipinas expressed hope that the other candidates would still change their minds.

"There is still time. Our call for unity of VP Leni is the only chance left for our country. Love of country is what made you run in the first place. True unity, despite obvious personal and political differences, to prevent a dark past is, more than ever, love of country as well," they stressed. — DVM, GMA News