(UPDATE) Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Thursday it pained him to run against his uncle-in-law, Senate President Tito Sotto, for the vice presidency, adding he was hoping their family could transcend politics.
It's the second time that Pangilinan and Sotto found themselves as political opponents. In 2004, Sotto was the campaign spokesman for the late movie king Fernando Poe Jr.'s campaign, while Pangilinan co-led the official canvassing of votes that resulted in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's victory.
"Masakit para sa atin and Sharon and I have prayed about it also na in the end, like all other families that go through rifts, we hope that there will be forgiveness and reconciliation for the hurts that may have been caused," Pangilinan told CNN Philippines.
Pangilinan's wife, actress Sharon Cuneta, is the niece of Sotto's wife, actress Helen Gamboa.
The day before the official announcement that he would be Vice President Leni Robredo's running mate, Pangilinan said he called up Sotto to explain his situation.
"Sabi ko I feel the right thing to do is to talk and inform you before any official announcement. And I explained to him that it was really not my plan and that the Vice President asked me," he said.
Cuneta also could not hide her sadness over their situation. In an Instagram post upon arrival to the Philippines from the U.S., the actress said she finds herself "in the midst of two rocks" as two men she greatly loves are vying for the vice presidency.
Pangilinan said that while their situation is difficult, all families go through rifts.
"All families go through similar experiences of differing opinions. Our family is no different expect that siyempre very public yung aming naging differences," he said.
He said Sotto also understands the situation during their call.
"I appreciate that. There was a recognition that these things happen even if he preferred a different set of circumstances."
Sotto is running for vice president as the running mate of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Lacson, in a separate interview, claimed that the vice president's camp pushed for a Robredo-Sotto tandem.
He said that during their second meeting as part of Robredo's unity talks, her ally Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pointed his fingers towards the vice president and Sotto which Lacson took to mean as endorsing a Robredo-Sotto tandem and sort of telling him to withdraw instead.
It was only after the meeting that Sotto told him about it.
"I felt insulted. Had I noticed that right when it happened, I could've stood up and left that meeting. Sa akin it's too insulting to say the least na in your face sabihin sayo na mag-withdraw," Lacson said during the Pandesal Forum on Wednesday.
"Doon ko talaga na-confirm na yung unification effort is only to unify under them, nothing more," he added.
Drilon, in response, said: "I do not recall those hand gestures attributed to me, much less the interpretaion accorded to it."
Robredo earlier rejected the unification formula offered by Lacson, which called for candidates to yield to the one who ranks high in surveys.
"Kapag nag-file ako, kailangan kong ituloy ang laban. Kapag nag-file ako, hindi ako pwedeng umatras kahit gaano pa kahirap kasi prinesenta ko na yung sarili ko sa publiko," she said in an August episode of her weekly radio program.