Presidential candidates Isko Moreno (left), Norberto Gonzales (middle), and Ping Lacson show reporters their joint statement signifying their intent to finish the race during a joint press conference at the Manila Peninsula Hotel on Easter Sunday. (Kiara Lauren Ibanez/BENJAMIN CUARESMA/ai/mtvn)
We were deep in deliberation over one of the most festive events among Christians worldwide, the event which commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death, as written in the Christian bible.
Easter is celebrated by Christians as a joyous holiday because it represents the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the revelation of God’s redemptive plan for all of humankind. In celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter also celebrates the defeat of death and the hope of salvation.
This is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary.
What happened on Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday? This day is considered the most significant in the Christian church’s calendar, as it is believed that on this day Jesus was resurrected
The significance of Easter is Jesus Christ’s triumph over death. His resurrection means the eternal life granted to all who believe in Him.
The purpose of Easter also means the full confirmation of all that Jesus taught and preached during His three-year ministry. If He had not risen from the dead, if He had simply died and not been resurrected, He would have been, as religion scholars say, thought of just another teacher or prophet.
But His resurrection rebuked all that and provided final and undeniable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had overcome death once and for all.
As we marked Easter, three presidential candidates – Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, who invited the media to cover the event, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales – held a joint noontime press conference to proclaim they were not backing out of the race and shifted gear in calling for unity in their joint statement.
Two others invited to the same conference – Senator Manny Pacquiao and former Executive Secretary Ernesto Abella – did not attend for reasons they and their staff only would know.
But Dr. Willie Ong, vice presidential running mate of Domagoso, was there, as was Senate President Vicente Sotto III, a teammate of Lacson.
Sources from at least three presidential contenders’ camps said the “call for unity” was necessary amid rumors that aspirants who have been lagging in pre-election surveys would soon back out of the May 9 elections – just three fretting weeks away.
The call for unity, in our view, could have been made even without a joint news conference. And they would still have put forward the message that none was backing out and the call for unity, obviously among themselves and against their opponents, still raised as high.
What we saw, from some media observer’s seat, is a hippodrome of hypocrisy.
Domagoso was more blunt during the presser when he called on survey second placer Vice President Leni Robredo to be a heroine and withdraw from the race, stopping short of who would remain to stand up to survey front runner former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Robredo’s spokesman, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, was as forthright in declaring the VP’s opponents who held a news conference could have done away with the “theatrics” of a presser in their attempt to make her withdraw from the race for the country’s top position.
“Who benefits from such theatrics? What is best for the Filipino people? Perhaps, silence would have had more depth; at the very least, it would exhibit less self-entitlement, fragility, and toxicity,” Gutierrez said in a statement hours after Domagoso, Lacson, and Gonzales held the press conference at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.
Domagoso, Lacson, and Gonzales issued statements against Robredo after they asserted their decision to seek the country’s highest post amid calls for them to withdraw.
Domagoso and Lacson criticized Robredo whom they described as “cannot be trusted” and for “fooling” other presidential contenders during the unity talks, stressing in their statement “We are joining forces against any attempt to influence the people’s freedom to choose who they will vote for…We will not withdraw, and we will carry on with our candidacy.”
We heard Gutierrez say the camp of Robredo wishes “every candidate who decides to push through to the end, only the best.”
“From the start, it has been the prerogative of every candidate to continue till the end, the same as it is the choice of a candidate to disregard surveys, rally attendance, endorsements, or any other conventional measure of support,” he added.
Accusing the camp of Robredo of asking him to give up his presidential bid, Domagoso said, “I am calling for Leni to withdraw, (because) whatever you’re doing is not effective against Marcos. Withdraw. Come and join us.”
But Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun said: “The call for… Robredo to withdraw is not only based on flawed assumptions but outright lacking in logic…She is the strongest opposition candidate whose numbers have continued to rise while those of others continue to dwindle.”
Lacson, for his part, issued a reminder that there are more than two candidates for president in this year’s elections.
Gonzales said there can be other options to beat Marcos, which he does not favor as well to win due to issues involving his family. “Maybe we should look past the second placer in pre-election surveys and consider those in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th positions.”
What is disturbing is the warning by Lacson and Gonzales of “destabilization” if Marcos Jr. wins the May 9 elections, a rather baleful statement from supposedly responsible presidential aspirants.
And we are counting the days. And then the ballots.
We hope there would be no magic this time. Any magic would be a crime against the Filipino people. (ai/mtvn)