Presidential candidate Isko Moreno on Sunday urged Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw from the presidential race as he pitched himself and three other candidates as alternatives against survey frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
In a joint press conference with Sen. Panfilo Lacson and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, Moreno said Robredo's camp had been persistent in calling for other presidential candidates to withdraw from the elections.
He also said the vice president "fooled him in the face" for supposedly saying that she would not run for president in the May 9 elections, and that her only goal in running was to make sure that the Marcos family would not return to power.
"If they are calling for supreme sacrifice, diba the yellow/pink are calling for supreme sacrifice? Edi ang pinaka-supreme sacrifice, if you are not a good player to win, then you pay the supreme sacrifice, you withdraw.... Now we are calling: Be a hero. Withdraw, Leni," Moreno said.
"I'm calling for Leni to withdraw kasi whatever you are doing is not effective against the Marcos. Withdraw, come and join us. Pwede pa-sub? Pa-sub naman. Baka kami maka-three points, isa sa amin," he added.
Moreno read the joint statement of the presidential candidates in attendance, saying that they commit to serving the people whoever wins the elections, and that they would not withdraw from the race.
"Kami tapatan, may the best man win. At least maraming option ang taumbayan na hindi kami aatras. At least we are united in a common goal: democracy, democracy, democracy," he said.
Lacson reiterated his claim that Robredo's unification talks before the filing of candidacies in October last year was only meant to unite potential candidates under her.
"Very obvious na ang intention is to unite under her, and that's not unification as far as I'm concerned. And that's the reason why we are here, we talked among themselves to offer ourselves and let the Filipino people decide who they want to be their next leaders," he said.
Lacson, however, said that the press conference was not to campaign for Marcos, as his victory would only result in more destabilization efforts against the government.
"Imagine the situation, nanalo siya, hindi titigil itong kabila. There will be continuing destabilization in this country. Baka pwedeng yung ibang alternative naman that can really and genuinely unite our people," he added.
The joint press conference took place with just three weeks left before the May 9 elections. Prior to the press conference, several supporters of both Lacson and Moreno changed their views and chose to endorse Robredo instead, citing the growing support for her on the ground.
Robredo's voter preference surged to 24% with an increase of 9 percentage points in the March 2022 Pulse Asia survey, placing second to Marcos with 56%.
Moreno and Lacson came in third and fifth places, respectively, in the same survey with 8% and 2% voter preference, with Gonzales ranking last among the 10 candidates with 0%.