MANILA -- Bagumbayan standard-bearer Senator Richard Gordon claimed Tuesday that Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Senator Manny Villar Jr. offered to reimburse all his campaign expenses in exchange of his withdrawal from the presidential race.

“A week before the campaign, bago magsara ang Senado, may lumapit sa akin na malaking tao. Ang sinabi sa akin na iurong ko daw ang supporta ko kay Senator Enrile at gawing Senate president ulit si Villar, boto ko na lang ang hinihintay at sasabihin ko sa inyo, sabi nyang ganun, babayaran ko lahat ang ginastos mo sa kampanya mo kung umatras ka, at bibigyan kita ng posisyon sa gabinete,” Gordon told broadcaster Mike Enriquez over radio station dzBB.

Gordon added that one of his children witnessed the bribe attempt but he refused to name the emissary pending answer from the Villar’s camp.

“Saka nyo na malalaman, gusto ko muna sumagot sila,” Gordon said.

Gordon, who lagged among presidential candidates in popular surveys, said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile knew about the incident and even hugged him in support of the senator's refusal to withdraw his candidacy.

Last week, former President Joseph Estrada admitted his camp has been approached at least three times in the past nine months to entice him to withdraw from the race and support another presidential candidate.

But he refused to name the person or the candidate, saying even if he disclosed it, the person or candidate will deny it. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)