PROMDI presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao yesterday brought up the possibility of adopting Senate president Tito Sotto as his running mate should his vice-presidential candidate, former Manila mayor Lito Atienza, backs out.
Atienza recently underwent surgery on his knee after an accident at home before the start of the official campaign period. Pacquiao said his VP bet is still recovering from the treatment, the reason why he has been unable to join the campaign.
Even before the campaign kicked off last February 8, Pacquiao said Atienza had informed him that he would prefer Sotto to replace him in the ticket even if the latter is running as vice-president to independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
The retired boxing icon clarified that the decision is Atienza’s alone to make as he stressed that he would continue to support his running mate.
“Cong. Atienza and I do not have any issue between us although he has intimated before that if he can’t finish the campaign he would rather that I adopt Sen. Sotto as guest VP bet,” Pacquiao told reporters covering his Iloilo swing.
Pacquiao is on a two-day campaign in Iloilo where he is courting the support of various Christian groups and the poor and marginalized communities.
He will start barnstorming in Bacolod on Friday and Dumaguete in Negros Island on Saturday.
Pacquiao said he remains optimistic that Atienza will recover soon and be healthy enough to join him on the campaign trail.
He said he has not yet discussed the matter with any of the parties involved, although he was supposed to meet with Sotto last Monday, which was called off because of his meeting with Space X senior managers.
“I would suggest that you pay attention and keep an ear to the ground once we start discussions. A lot will depend on how our talks would unfold,” he said.
Pacquiao announced last Tuesday night that he is voluntarily inhibiting from participating in the Senate inquiry into the reported Smartmatic data breach.
In an interview with the media before flying to Iloilo, he called on colleagues who are supporting other presidential bets to spare the Senate investigations from suspicions of conflict of interest by joining him in the sidelines.
Even while he hopes to know firsthand the guarantees of a fair and clean elections, he remains mindful of the concern of every citizen election arm to seek the same assurance.
“I have no problem if they do not want me to participate in the investigation. I also want a clean election without cheating,” he said. (P. Tabingo, Malaya)