Sotto: Leni camp first reached out to us


IN an apparent bid to further set the record straight on Senator Panfilo Lacson’s proposal that Vice President Leni Robredo rejected—regarding fielding a unified slate in the 2022 elections—Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday released on Twitter a screenshot of a Viber message sent to him through emissary on July 14, 2021.

The message presumably from the Robredo camp, sent at 8:12AM, told the unnamed link (Sotto covered the person’s name for protection) ran like this: “I am texting as well to relay a message from VP Lenie. She would like to reach out to SP Sotto and Sen Lacson and consult them regarding the possibility of uniting behind one candidate/one ticket come 2022. She also says that the candidate need not be her as the victory and the unity of ticket for her is paramount. May I ask your help to relay this message to SP (Sotto)? I also relayed this message to Jay, Sen. Ping Lacson’s COS (chief-of-staff) . Will wait for your advise. Maraming salamat!

Also, she is willing to see SP Sotto and Sen Ping at a place of their convenience. For your info.”

Asked by reporters for his reaction to this, Senate President Sotto did not hide his disappointment at the “quick rejection” by the Robredo camp of Lacson’s offer, which, he said, was made in good faith and should at least have been studied further.

Sotto implied that some people around the VP may have had their own agenda right from the start, which did not align with the apparently very open tone of the message he first got on July 14 when Robredo first reached out to him through emissary.

Sotto and Lacson were taken aback at the weekend when Robredo revealed she had rejected Lacson’s unification offer. The latter entailed having all of the non-administration candidates proceeding to file their certificates of candidacy (COC) in October, and then, as their strength and numbers begin to show who is the candidate with the most realistic chance of defeating the Duterte-backed candidate, for them to withdraw in favor of that person.

On Sunday, Lacson shrugged off Robredo’s decision to thumb down his “sure  unification formula”  to firm up a united front  against  whoever will finally be named as standard bearer of the outgoing Duterte administration.

“It was a selfless move on my part to offer the unification formula to Vice President Leni Robredo since she was after a united opposition front in 2022,”  Lacson said, adding: “After all, it was
her objective for liaising with different forces or candidates including Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Richard Gordon, among others.”

In a statement, Lacson assured:  “It goes without saying, I respect her decision to resist my suggestion and whatever reasons she has for declining.”

The senator admitted that while “there could be some complications attendant to my suggestion, nevertheless, it was a sincere and selfless offer in support of her equally sincere efforts to have one common candidate against whoever will be the
administration’s bet.”

At the same  time, Lacson added that “included in my suggestion was to have Senate President Vicente Sotto III as our common VP candidate, if only to emphasize that I have no intention of abandoning my partner,” noting that, “in fact, it was in his presence that I made the offer.”

Lacson likewise recalled that during their meeting, “I could not think of another sure unification formula,” as he reminded that “not filing in October in favor of one common candidate as Vice President  Leni (Robredo) would want it will not happen, considering
that the campaign won’t even start until  February or four months later.”

The senator stressed:  “That is who I am. Challenge me and I will deal with it with boldness, honesty, sincerity and sensibility. I take serious matters with utmost seriousness. Concepts are easy to deal with. How to concretize and implement is the hardest part.”

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