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

“A week before the campaign, that was before the Senate adjourned, an influential person came to me and told me to abandon support to Senator Enrile in order to regain the senate presidency for Senator Villar. He told me: They were just awaiting your vote; that I will pay for all your expenses including those incurred during your campaign. If you withdraw from the race, I will give you any Cabinet position,” Gordon said in an interview over radio station dzBB.

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The senator added that one of his children witnessed the bribe try but he refused to name the emissary pending answer from Villa’s camp.

“You will know soon, I want them to answer first,” Gordon said.

Villar has yet to issue an official statement on the allegation leveled against him.

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.

In January, Enrile disclosed the alleged attempt of Villar to bribe him in connection with the Senate investigation of the C-5 road project controversy.

Enrile said Villar supposedly made repeated offers to him for help with anything he needed, including support on the senate president's re-election bid.

Villar, however, denied Enrile's charges.

The Senate Committee of the Whole said Villar should return the P6.22 billion the government lost because of the alleged anomalies.

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.

Meanwhile, the senator also took a swipe on surveys for conditioning the minds of the voters while urging the electorate to discern deeply their choices for next Philippine president.

He said surveys sway people from making careful choices and rob them of their votes.

The long-time Olongapo City mayor said the electorate should look at the track record of the candidates and study what they are consistently doing in their communities.

But despite his poor showing, the senator said he will never back out from the May 2010 election.

“I am standing for election for the presidency of this country,” he said.

Gordon’s platform prioritizes health issues and education, disease prevention, tourism development and wiping out graft and corruption. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)