Interview with Attorney Barry Gutierrez on CNN’s The Source
CNN’s The Source, CNN Philippines
PINKY WEBB: Spokesperson Attorney Barry Gutierrez. Attorney Gutierrez, welcome to the Source, thank you so much for your time.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Good morning Pinky, happy to be here.
PINK WEBB: Okay, so Senator Ping Lacson– I'm sure you've read and heard about this– revealed that over the weekend, I think he was in Pampanga, there was a– an offer for him to actually withdraw from the presidential race and that if he does that, it would be a Robredo-Tito Sotto tandem. What is this all about?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: I actually don't know. I quite honestly am surprised that he would claim that somebody talked to him. If somebody did, I don't know who did. It's certainly not from the campaign of VP Leni. We have been very, very clear on our position, as particularly on the vice president, that her running mate of choice, the only vice president she is campaigning for and who has no intention of withdrawing, is Senator Kiko Pangilinan. So, I do not know who talked to Senator Lacson, I do not know the details of this supposed offer but it certainly did not come from our campaign.
PINKY WEBB: It did not come from the Leni-Kiko campaign, that's what you're saying? But has there been talk of such you've been hearing around?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well–
PINKY WEBB: Prior to Senator Ping Lacson's revelation.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: I did not hear anything specific about a conversation with Senator Lacson, and certainly there has been no conversation at all regarding the possibility of Senator Kiko Pangilinan, either withdrawing or even being asked to withdraw. The vice president's position is very clear: she is going to be campaigning, she is going to be pushing for Senator Kiko as VP until the end of this campaign, and that is the position of the entire campaign. We have been working for him, 24/7, we have been working double time to get his numbers up, and you know, we are determined and hopeful to have him as vice president by May 9, after the elections.
PINKY WEBB: But, let's just quote what Senator Ping Lacson said, sabi po niya "Sa akin may lumapit, alam niyo ang offer doon sa Pampanga? Alam niyo ang proposal niya sa akin, ito daw: ‘Senator kaya namin paatrasin si Kiko at ipasok si senate president bilang vice president ni Leni basta mag withdraw ka lang.’"
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well you know, if he's really– If somebody is talking to him, he should reveal who this person is because it's certainly not from our camp. That's the long and the short of it. We are not pursuing any active efforts to talk to him. We are certainly not asking or even floating the idea of a possible withdrawal on the part of Senator Pangilinan, so I don't know who this person claiming to actually be able to do this, is and what this entire thing is all about. But certainly, it's not from our end.
PINKY WEBB: But if you– if I were just to go back ano, Attorney Barry, if such a thought actually really even popped up, it was the time that former speaker Alvarez withdrew from Senator Ping Lacson and joined Leni Robredo and also adopting Tito Sotto. So, if I were to just go back to the time that I heard of such a formula, it was back then. Do you think it could've been coming from the camp of the former speaker?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well again, I cannot speculate. I do not have information and I do not want to speculate at this point. If Senator Lacson claims that somebody was talking to him about this, then you know, he should be the one to be asked as to who this person is. But what I can confirm and what I can say with complete clarity is that this is not someone from the Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan campaign.
PINKY WEBB: Okay. You said a while ago, I wanted to focus on this, sabi niyo po "There has been no effort to talk to Senator Ping Lacson." Could you repeat that sir, talagang hindi niyo po kinakausap si Senator Ping Lacson or his camp? We're talking about your camp, 'yung kilala niyo pong mga tao sa camp ninyo na sigurado po kayo. Wala po sa inyong kumakausap sa kanya?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Certainly, not recently. You know it's no secret that prior to the October 7 declaration of the vice president, there were conversations happening. But ever since the official campaign started, to my knowledge, there has been no conversation, there has been no active efforts. The focus has been really on the campaign of VP Leni for president and Senator Kiko for vice president. So, yes definitely there has been no recent effort to talk to him coming from our end.
PINK WEBB: But what about the possible talk of unity, 'di ho ba?
BARRY FUTIERREZ: Well again, the unity conversation happened way back last year. Now–
PINKY WEBB: I'm talking about now.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Discounting the possibility that there might be other people talking to different camps, but again that's not coming from us and I'm certainly not aware of any details of– if that is indeed what is happening here.
PINKY WEBB: You know, Senator Ping Lacson actually went as far as saying that there were similar proposals also to Senator Manny Pacquiao and also Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Maybe, it's good to also get your position, reaction on this. Meron ho bang–
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well again from listening to what he said, he seems to be speculating. And again, I can say that from our end, and the vice president has already– also said this– there are no active efforts to actually try and talk to any of the other candidates and bring them in. What we have been saying all along is, we are not going to actively pursue this anymore, we are focused on our own campaign. But again, we are open to conversation. If they are the ones who want to talk to us, or if there are other people who are pursuing this, then we're willing to talk. But at this point, that's not the priority.
PINKY WEBB: I see. But there is no initiative coming from your end? That's what you're saying basically.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: No.
PINKY WEBB: You're open pero hindi manggagaling sa inyo 'yung inisyatibo.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Yes, and this is what we have been saying all along, our position has not changed. Ever since the vice president declared her candidacy, following– you know– the talks that unfortunately did not lead to a unified slate, our position has been we will no longer pursue this actively, but if people want to talk, then we are open to talking.
PINKY WEBB: Okay. I wanted just to really quickly go to your vice presidential bet Senator Kiko Pangilinan. He got very emotional in the last rally, I believe that was in Pampanga. You know even, whenever it is, wherever it is you read it, sir, meron ho kasing tinatawag na RoSa hindi ho ba? May Robredo-Sara, meron pong si former House Speaker Alvarez, gusto po si Leni Robredo saka si Tito Sotto. Lito Bana– Marami ho– siguro maraming mga pakiramdam ang pakiramdam na kahit papaano, hindi buo ang suporta kung ano– how big of a support Leni Robredo is getting, to some it doesn't seem like her vice presidential bet is getting that same support. Then I want to go back to the rally in Pampanga, kung saan sabi nga nila, kung merong mga politiko na hindi nagtataas ng kamay ni vice presidential candidate Kiko Pangilinan, nakuha naman daw niya 'yung mga farmers.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Yes.
PINKY WEBB: At naiyak ho siya doon, he turned very emotional when that happened.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Yes. And, you know, it was really a very very, I think, touching moment. And I think that was a very symbolic moment as well. As you said, the reality of Philippine politics is that politicians will game the system. They will– some of them would support one presidential candidate and another vice presidential candidate, not necessarily the one that the presidential candidate is in tandem with. That's what has always happened in the history of our elections. But the farmers’ endorsement in Pampanga, I think, is symbolic of what our campaign stands for because it symbolizes that as far as Leni Robredo and the people's campaign that has coalesced around her are concerned, our vice presidential bet, our only vice president who we will be campaigning for to the end, is Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
PINKY WEBB: There were a number of endorsements also, and I want to talk about very briefly the reason, Pulse Asia Survey, but we need to take a very short break. This is the Source on CNN Philippines, please stay tuned.
PINKY WEBB: You're watching the Source on CNN Philippines. Our guest today, Vice President Leni Robredo's spokesperson, Attorney Barry Gutierrez. Sir, just a lot of things still to discuss, ano. Let's go to the recent rallies. The De Venecia clan throwing their support to Robredo in Pangasinan, how did this happen?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, just a few days before the scheduled rally was to take place, they reached out and said that they were actually willing to endorse VP Leni and declare their support. So, you know, that's what we saw that particular day.
PINKY WEBB: And how big of a– of an endorsement would that be. Because if we look at the vice presidential race in 2016 and if my research is right, at that time it was a big loss for Vice President Leni Robredo in Pangasinan. She lost about 500,000 votes. I think, Marcos got 800,000 or so, and Robredo got about 200,000. How big of a– siguro an endorsement would this be for Leni Robredo now seeking the presidency?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well you know, let me start by saying that any endorsement by any local leader is obviously going to be something that is an addition to the campaign. We are fighting for votes, we are fighting to gain ground, particularly in provinces which like you said in 2016, VP Leni did not get the highest vote total. So, obviously any endorsement will be welcomed.
And coming specially from the De Venecias who are a prominent force in their home province. He was a former– Speaker De Venecia was of course House Speaker. He was a former presidential candidate, his wife and his son are both members of Congress. You know, this will definitely be a boost to the campaign coupled with the massive support from the ground coming from volunteers and supporters, many of whom made possible the successful rally just a few days ago in Pangasinan. I think that we have a good shot this time around of improving the VP's votes in that particular province.
PINKY WEBB: But do you think that because of that kind of endorsement, Vice President Robredo will beat Marcos in Pangasinan?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: [laughs] I don't know whether it will actually lead to that, but we'll see. I definitely think that the race has become more interesting. I definitely think that this is going to be a boost for the campaign and for her chances, so we'll see.
PINKY WEBB: And of course, there was the Pampanga rally. Police estimate is about 220,000. Sabi nila, this is the biggest so far. But I want to go to my last question, I asked you this also the last time I spoke to you, Attorney Barry. How do you think your camp will fare in the next survey? You were pretty close to what you had estimated the last time I spoke to you. I think you said possibly two digits. Okay, it's plus nine. With this kind of momentum, 24 percent versus 56 percent, still a far second. How much of a gain are you expecting in the next survey?
BARRY GUTIERREZ: I think the gain in the next survey will even be more dramatic. We're already seeing the beginning of her numbers snowballing while the last survey reflected, you know, substantial gain, it has not yet captured some of the bigger rallies. It has not yet captured the house-to-house campaign, it has not yet captured a lot of the game-changing endorsements that have– she just received more recently. So, definitely her numbers will continue to improve and this is something that we would be able to win by election day.
PINKY WEBB: But unity is still important, would you say that among the rest of the candidates?
BARRY GUTIERREZ; I think that, you know, unity will definitely be helpful. I think that if it is possible to achieve at this point, it will definitely boost the chances of the campaign. And again, 28 days is an eternity so a lot can still happen and we’ll just have to wait and see as to what developments will still unfold.
PINKY WEBB: As you mention, 28 days to go, Attorney Barry Gutierrez, sir, maraming salamat po sa inyong oras.
BARRY GUTIERREZ: Thank you Pinky, always a pleasure to be here.