UNA won’t drop Pacquiao from Senate slate

Mara Cepeda
UNA won’t drop Pacquiao from Senate slate

Rob Reyes

'Kayo naman. Humingi na nga ng tawad e!' says Vice President Jejomar Binay, as he again defends the embattled boxing icon

MANILA, Philippines – The opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is not dropping boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao from its Senate slate over his controversial remark on same-sex marriage.

In an interview with reporters after he addressed Filipino-Chinese businessmen  at the Manila Hotel on Friday, February 19, Vice President Jejomar Binay again came to Pacquiao’s defense, saying: “Kayo naman. Humingi na nga ng tawad e (Come on. He already asked for forgiveness)!”

The UNA standard-bearer, who does not support same-sex marriage, previously shielded Pacquiao from criticism and said he is “very God-fearing.”

UNA president and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco said in a media interview that the party needs to rally behind Pacquiao now more than ever, as the boxing icon faces a backlash not only at home but also abroad.

First of all, siya ho ay nagapologize na, humingi ng tawad. At kung mali man ‘yung nagawa ni Congressman Pacquiao, siguro hindi lang bilang kapartido, bilang kaibigan, mas lalong dapat namin siyang yakapin para magkapalinawagan tungkol sa bagay na ito Hindi naman tama na porke’t na may mali siyang nasabi, ay iwanan na namin siya,” he said.

(First of all, he already apologized. If Congressman Pacquiao did something wrong, not only as partymate but more so as a friend, there’s more reason for us to embrace him now this matter should be better clarified. It’s not right for us to leave him just because he said something wrong.)

Pacquiao is under fire for saying that couples of same-sex unions are “worse than animals.” The Christian pastor initially quoted the Bible to defend his stand, but later apologized “for those I’ve hurt.” 

But even after his apology, he took to Instagram to post a Bible verse on gays “put to death,” though he removed this a couple of hours later. 

Pacquiao, the biggest crowd drawer in the UNA Senate slate, chose to run under UNA despite an offer from the ruling Liberal Party, and his friendship with another presidential candidate, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Support for anti-discrimination bill

Tiangco also allayed fears that Pacquiao’s views on same-sex marriage was a preview of the laws he would be passing if he becomes senator.

 With a 97% awareness rating in the latest Pulse Asia survey, Pacquiao has a strong chance of gaining a Senate seat in May. 

Tiangco said in his discussion with Pacquiao, the boxer admitted that he should not have compared gay couples with animals. 

He also stressed that that UNA supports the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

Definitely we are for it….Ang dami naming kaibigan na parte ng sector na yun, not only me but also Congressman Pacquiao. Saka alam niyo, ang sector ng LGBT ay maraming natutulong sa ating bansa. Sila ay magagaling, very creative. We [should]  be proud of them,” he said.

(Definitely we are for it. Congressman Pacquiao and I both have friends in that sector. And you know, the LGBT sector has many contributions to our country. They are good and very creative. We should be proud of them.)

Asked what is UNA’s stand on same-sex marriage as a party, Tiangco said “that is a very sensitive issue that has to be deliberated upon.” – Rappler.com.

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.