The camp of presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao will purge its senatorial lineup of at least two candidates who have reportedly endorsed leading rivals in the Palace race.
The names of reelectionist Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and labor leader Elmer “Bong” Labog surfaced during a recent press conference as among those up for evaluation with the possibility of being scrapped from Pacquiao’s list of adopted senatorial bets.
“Para ka nang tanga noon. Nag-endorse ng isang candidate ay nasa iyo pa rin, (You cannot be that stupid. They endorsed another candidate yet they are still with you),” Pacquiao responded when asked how he would deal with adopted senatorial candidates who are campaigning for his presidential rivals.
“Paguusapan pa namin kung ano ang dapat gawin. I-final ko ang lineup namin (We will discuss what to do. I will finalize our line-up),” Pacquiao told reporters.
Last week, Gatchalian’s name was scrapped from the list of senators adopted by the tandem of presidential candidate Senator Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
The former Valenzuela City mayor, a party mate of Sotto in the National People’s Coalition (NPC), reportedly appeared during the proclamation rally of the UniTeam of presidential bet Bongbong Marcos and vice presidential candidate Mayor Sara Duterte in Bulacan.
In a news forum in Quezon City, Labog admitted that the Makabayan coalition, from which he belonged to, has decided to go all out in its support for opposition bet Vice President Leni Robredo.
Labog said that while intends to root for Pacquiao, he must abide by the Makabayan's decision. He will leave Pacquiao to respond to this development in connection with his inclusion in the boxing icon’s senatorial slate.
Earlier, former Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, another Makabayan senatorial candidate adopted by the Pacquiao camp, asked the Mindanaoan senator to delete his name from his line-up.
On the other hand, guest candidate and senatorial survey leader Raffy Tulfo joined Pacquiao in his proclamation rally in General Santos City, South Cotabato on Feb. 2.
During a press conference the following day, Tulfo clarified that as an independent candidate he will endorse neither Pacquiao nor Lacson for the presidency despite being adopted by them in their respective senatorial lists.
Others included in Pacquiao’s list of adopted senatorial candidates are: former Eastern Samar governor Lutz Barbo; Deputy Speaker and Antique Senator Loren Legarda; Senators Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri; and former Vice President Jejomar Binay. Among the members of Pacquiao’s Senate slate, only Barbo, a candidate of the PDP-Laban (Pimentel wing), is openly campaigning for the PROMDI party’s presidential bid.
Like Tulfo, the rest have also been included in the senatorial list of Pacquiao’s Palace rivals, and are thus prohibited from campaigning for him.