Senator Manny Pacquiao (File photo)

MANILA – A month away from the national elections and with his ranking barely improving based on surveys, Senator Manny Pacquiao remained fixed on his quest to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a media interview on the sidelines of his campaign trail in Batangas, Pacquiao said he has thumbed down moves of the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo, made through his running mate Lito Atienza, for him to back out and join forces to ensure that perennial survey frontrunner, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., won’t win on May 9.

"Ang desisyon namin ni Vice Lito is ituloy ang laban at para ito sa bayan di ito para sa sarili namin. Kase kung iniisip namin ay sarili namin makikipag-compromise kami. Mahirap naman so ang laban namin dito ay tunay na pagbabago. Kase yun naman talaga ang hangad ko. Wala kaming halong vested interest dito kase ito purely para sa bayan ang laban na 'to (My and Vice Lito’s decision is to continue because this is something we are doing for our country and not for ourselves. We have no vested interest here and we only have the country in mind)," Pacquiao said.

If and when Atienza backs out, the world-renowned boxer may opt to support his colleague, Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

"Kung sakaling mag-desisyon sya (Atienza) na ano, ang na-iisip namin ang pupwede lang ay si Senator Vicente Sotto (If Atienza decides [to back out], our only option is Senator Vicente Sotto)," Pacquiao said.

The 80-year-old Atienza underwent knee surgery in February and has since been unable to join campaign activities.

"Ang mga senior inalaagaan natin. Kung ‘di nya kaya, ‘wag nyang pilitin (We take care of our senior citizens. If he is not up to it, he should not force it)," Pacquiao said.

In Batangas which has 1.8 million voters, Pacquiao said he is counting on grassroots support from villages and the poor sector.

Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto supports Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko" Domogoso while Governor Hermilando Mandanas is backing the Ferdinand Marcos Jr.-Sara Duterte tandem.

Pacquiao got a measly six percent and ranked fourth in the March 17 to 21 Pulse Asia research survey, behind Marcos (56 percent), Robredo (24 percent), and Domagoso (eight percent).

The youngest presidential candidate at 43 years likewise placed outside the top three in the March 30 and April 6 survey of lobbying and campaign management firm PUBLiCUS. (PNA)