Presidential candidate Norberto Gonzales on Tuesday apologized to Vice President Leni Robredo for how the joint press conference he attended with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Sen. Panfilo Lacson turned out.
Gonzales, a former defense secretary to ex-president Gloria Arroyo, said the press conference on Sunday was originally meant to show that the presidential candidates in attendance were united to serve the government regardless of the results of the May 9 elections and not to call for Robredo's resignation.
"I'm sorry about that. Hindi ganun ang tingin namin sa magiging press conference. Akala namin it's the beginning of that very happy feeling na nagkakasundo kami, magtutulungan kami after the elections," Gonzales told ANC in an interview.
"I'm apologizing to her (Robredo). Because what we need is something better after the elections whoever wins," he added.
During the joint press conference, Moreno urged Robredo to withdraw from the presidential race as he accused the vice president's camp of asking other presidential candidates to back out from the elections.
Ernest Ramel Jr., chairperson of Moreno's Aksyon Demokratiko party, said the Manila mayor only brought up the call after hearing Gonzales' statement that it might be better to replace Robredo in the second spot to challenge survey frontrunner Bongbong Marcos.
Gonzales, however, said he does not agree with Moreno's call for Robredo to withdraw. He even said that he felt "uncomfortable" after the Manila mayor made such call.
"So far among the challengers, the vice president has the highest rating in fact. What I'm just trying to point is the possibilities that are available to the people para magbago na ang perspective," Gonzales said.
"We don't actually need to withdraw. But if our people will understand the fight and they truly want a victory, for example, of the vice president, our own supporters will begin to think and probably shift on their own," he added.
If the surveys were to be followed, Gonzales admitted that Robredo "has the best chance of really challenging BBM."
"I wish for the change that we are hoping is medyo maayos lang yung playing field. As people will open their minds," he added.
During Sunday's joint press conference, Moreno, Gonzales, and Lacson signed a joint statement saying that they commit to serving the people whoever wins the elections, and that they would not withdraw from the race.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, another presidential candidate, was also supposed to attend the press conference, but he did not make it. His campaign manager, Buddy Zamora, said the senator does not support the call for Robredo to resign.
Lacson also earlier distanced himself from Moreno's "withdraw Leni" call.