Vice presidential candidate Lito Atienza’s health condition has bogged down his participation in campaign activities with his running mate Sen. Manny Pacquiao. But will he officially back off from the race almost a month before voting day?
Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday, Atienza shared how he is recovering from his knee surgery, as well as his plans, just 35 days before the election.
“I’m okay now! Better than yesterday, better than a week ago, better before the operation, better than after the operation. I’m now on the way to full recovery and I’m learning how to walk now,” Atienza disclosed, noting that he is undergoing “very serious therapy.”
But when asked when he will likely join Pacquiao in his campaign sorties, Atienza could not give a definite answer and again hinted on his plan of possibly withdrawing from the race.
“That’s the reason why I’m considering changing course because I’m not very sure whether I can really fully walk, climb mountains, join my presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao,” the BUHAY Party-list representative said. “In fairness to him sabi ko, ‘I’m trying to strike a note of change at magkaroon tayo ng (so we will have a) realignment and we’ll get a full-time partner, but I want you to win.'”
Atienza shared that even if he eventually withdraws from the VP derby, he will continue to vouch for Pacquiao, whom he has known for more than two decades. But he will not leave if his withdrawal will not cause “a realignment of forces” to potentially stop a Bongbong Marcos victory.
Last week, Atienza said he will only back out if Sen. Panfilo Lacson will drop out of his presidential bid and make way for a tandem between Pacquiao and Lacson’s running mate Sen. Tito Sotto.
But Lacson did not budge. Atienza eventually clarified that this was just a “suggestion” since he respects and still treats Lacson as a friend.
For now, the Pacquiao-Atienza tandem stays on, he stressed, but the lawmaker will continue to float his second preferred combination since he believes Pacquiao and Sotto are best for the two highest posts.
“Up to the time when an announcement is made, even up to election day, Pacquiao-Atienza tandem continues to be active. I will continue campaigning as if nothing has changed, but with that suggestion alive and to be considered,” Atienza said.