Rizalito David willing to withdraw from VP race to support Sotto; Pangilinan, Bello disagree

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Vice presidential hopeful Rizalito David said he is willing to back out of the race and urge his fellow bets to follow such an act in order to support Senate President Tito Sotto, and possibly beat the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem which perennially leads pre-election surveys. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 20) — Vice presidential hopeful Rizalito David said he is willing to back out of the race and urge his fellow bets to follow his lead in order to support Senate President Tito Sotto, and possibly beat the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem which perennially leads pre-election surveys.

"I don't mind supporting Senator Sotto and I don't mind supporting Leni Robredo if that is the case para lang talunin si Marcos and si Sara (just so we can beat Marcos and Sara)," David told reporters hours before the vice presidential debate hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday.

He maintained that the tandem will not bring any good to the country, citing their fathers' alleged failures.

David said he chose Sotto since he is the third most powerful person in the country as the Senate President and that he is also coming strong in the surveys. He added that he has yet to discuss this idea with his running mate, Jose Montemayor, Jr.

However, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan and Walden Bello, who arrived after David, disagreed with him.

Pangilinan simply said David is entitled to his own opinion. Bello stressed that he is not backing down.

"It's too early to make decisions on that sort but clearly, I am out to win and I might ask the other candidates tonight if they're willing to withdraw in favor of me," said Bello.

Meanwhile, Sotto said he was "speechless" over David's suggestion.

"I wish to thank him for considering me as a possible alternative candidate," said the Senate President.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and former Senator Bongbong Marcos maintained their lead as the public's top choices with a 53% and 60% rating, respectively. Sotto followed Duterte at 24%, while Robredo is behind Marcos at 15%.

Marcos did not attend the Comelec presidential debate on Saturday, while Duterte's camp informed the public she is likely to skip the VP debate either. 

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez also told reporters that the agency did not receive a formal notice on Duterte's apparent absence.