Atienza ‘seriously’ considering backing out of VP race – but wants Lacson to withdraw, too

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Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza is “seriously” considering withdrawing from the vice presidential race, but said he will only do so if Senator Panfilo Lacson also drops out of his presidential bid. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza is “seriously” considering withdrawing from the vice presidential race, but said he will only do so if Senator Panfilo Lacson also drops out of his presidential bid.

Atienza on Thursday said he is open to a tandem between his running mate, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

However, he insisted that Lacson must first withdraw so that the new team-up can be formalized.

Kung magwi-withdraw si Ping' (If Ping will withdraw), consider my words done," Atienza said. "I was talking to Tito Sotto last night. Consider my words done 'pag sinabi ni Ping na magwi-withdraw (if Ping says he will withdraw).”

Kung tuloy ang partnership ni Ping and Tito (If Ping and Tito's partnership will push through), I don’t want to be the third man in their relationship…" he added. "Pero kung maghihiwalay sila, ayoko namang maulila si Tito (but if they separate, I wouldn't want Tito to be left behind). I will try to connect both of them—Tito and Manny."

Atienza has been unable to join Pacquiao on the campaign trail since undergoing knee surgery in February. He is still recovering at home.

The former Manila mayor said he is open to endorsing Sotto’s vice presidential bid because they share the same “pro-life” stance.

“Tito is a man I’ve known a long time ago," Atienza said. "He’s a solid pro-lifer. I’ve worked with him in many occasions for the campaign of the life of the unborn and the elderly kaya (that is why) I’m very, very at ease with endorsing a man like him.”

Should Lacson refuse to back out, the deputy House Speaker said he will continue his vice presidential run.

However, he warned that the odds of winning against the tandem of former senator Ferdinand Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte might become slimmer unless there are drastic changes in the campaign strategy of other candidates.

“If he doesn’t back out, I will not make a move," the 80-year-old lawmaker said. "I will continue fighting it out beside Manny Pacquiao. Pero sinasabi ko sa inyo, wala tayong laban (But I'm telling you, we don't stand a chance) unless we reshuffle the whole thing.”