Senator Panfilo Lacson (Photo courtesy of Lacson Sotto Media Bureau)

MANILA – Independent presidential candidate Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Thursday reiterated that he will not withdraw from the May 9 elections.

This came after Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza called for his withdrawal from the polls so that a stronger tandem can be fielded against survey frontrunners Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

"For the nth time, I will finish this race and I am not backing out. I reject the call of Rep. Jose ‘Lito’ Atienza for me to withdraw from the presidential race," he said in a statement forwarded to reporters.

Atienza earlier said he is considering pulling out of the vice presidential race and said he wants Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III to run with Senator Manny Pacquiao to provide a stronger challenge against the frontrunners.

Lacson also called Atienza's pronouncement a rude act.

"What he did is uncalled for -- kabastusan (rudeness), to say the least. He should go back to school and study Good Manners and Right Conduct, which law I co-authored," he added.

Lacson also reiterated his call that Filipinos should not waste their votes on "survey politics" but instead choose a leader who is the most qualified and competent, not the one dictated by surveys.

"Instead of thinking we will waste our votes on those who are qualified but not leading in the surveys, we should remember that it would be a bigger waste if we select the wrong leader who turns out to be less competent," Lacson said. (PNA)