Pacquiao: I can draw crowds for Binay, UNA

Mara Cepeda
Pacquiao: I can draw crowds for Binay, UNA
The boxing champ, who is running for senator, says his popularity will draw people to Binay's rallies, thus make them listen to the Vice President's platform

SARANGANI, Philippines – Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao said his presence in the remaining sorties of the  United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) will likely attract bigger crowds in the last 3 weeks of the campaign perood. 

Pacquiao, who is running for senator, organized two rallies for his standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday, April 19 – one in Alabel town in Sarangani, and another in General Santos City, South Cotabato.

While he represents Sarangani in Congress, the boxing champ traces his roots to General Santos, where he failed in his early congressional bid before venturing into the neighboring province of Sarangani.

“Ang maitulong ko sa ating mahal na Bise Presidente na magiging presidente ay ipaalam sa mga tao ‘yung mga accomplishment niya,” Pacquiao told reporters. (The help I can give the Vice President, who will become the President, is to let people know about his accomplishments.)

He said that his unanimous victory against boxer Timothy Bradley on April 9 may work in UNA’s favor.

“Siguro makakatulong ‘yun kasi unang-una, pag nandun ako, I’m sure – ayokong buhatin ‘yung sariling upuan ko – maraming tao ang pupunta doon sa rally para makita ako dahil hindi naman lahat ng Pilipino nakakita na sa akin,” added the People’s Champ, who is running as senator under UNA.

(Maybe that would help because, first – not that I’m bragging – many people would go to the rallies because not all Filipinos have seen me.)


“Siguro malaking tulong na ‘yan para marinig ‘yung mga plataporma nila pag nagsalita sila dahil maraming tao ang makakarinig sa kanilang mga plataporma at sasabihin,” he added. (Maybe that’s a big help so that more people can hear about their platform.)

This is the second time Pacquiao joined UNA on the campaign trail, the first being the party’s proclamation rally in Mandaluyong City on February 9.

While the boxing icon spent most of the campaign period training for his fight against Bradley, he is the only one among the 6 UNA-exclusive senatorial bets to make it in the Magic 12. 

Pacquiao previously said he would retire from boxing after his fight against Bradley. But after securing a crowd-pleasing victory against his opponent, Pacquiao said his decision is now “50-50.”

Binay ‘feels heart of the poor’

THOUSANDS-STRONG. UNA estimates the crowd in Alabel, Sarangani at 15,000. Photo from the Office of Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao decided to stick with Binay for the 2016 elections even after receiving an offer from the Liberal Party. He is also friends with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is now topping election surveys. 

The UNA senatorial bet reiterated his endorsement of Binay.

“Sinusuportahan ko si VP dahil naniniwala ako na ang puso niya, kahit ano man ang mangyari, nararamdaman niya ‘yung puso ng mahihirap na tao dahil nanggaling siya sa mahirap na buhay,” said Pacquiao. (I support the VP because he feels the heart of the poor for he came from that kind of life.)

“Ako man, ilang milyon ang natanggap ko sa buhay ko, ilang bilyon man ang natanggap ko, ang puso ko, ang experience ko sa pagiging mahirap ay di mawawala sa puso ko. Bawat sigaw ng mahihirap na tao, nararamdaman ko ‘yung hinaing nila, nararamdaman ko ‘yung bawat sigaw nila kasi dun ako nanggaling nga,” he added.

(Even if I have received millions or even billions in my life, my experience of poverty will never leave my heart. I feel every cry that the poor make because that’s where I came from.)

Binay said he remains confident in Pacquiao’s support.

“Ito, kung anong sabihin ‘nya, ‘yun na…. Iisa ang partido namin – partido UNA. Iisa ang aming adhikain: maiahon ang ating mga kababayan sa kahirapan,” said the Vice President.

(Whatever he says is final. We have one party – UNA. We have one advocacy: to lift our countrymen out of poverty.)

No comment on Duterte?

INDIRECT JAB. Without mentioning Duterte's name, Binay indirectly hits his rival during a speech in General Santos City. Photo by Mara Cepeda/ Rappler

The two UNA candidates were careful not to comment directly on the latest controversy being faced by Duterte, who got 58% of Mindanaoans’ approval in the latest ABS-CBN poll.

Duterte is under fire for joking about the rape-slay of Australian lay missionary Jacqueline Hammil. He initially refused to say sorry for his remarks, but his camp later issued an apology statement to reporters.  

In the past weeks, Binay included tirades against Duterte in campaign speeches. But he did not mention the tough-talking mayor directly as he faced Sarangani residents on Tuesday. 

He merely repeated his previous warning to voters against a Duterte presidency, but without mentioning his rival’s name.

“Kaya ho ako, ‘yan hong pagpatay sa kapwa dahil sa napagsuspetiyahan lang, mag-isip-isip kayo, ha? Mag-isip-isip kayo kasi baka magsisisi kayo sa pagboto na ang kanyang remedyo ay patayin ang kanyang kapwa – kahit na bata, kahit na magkakakapatid,” said Binay before residents of General Santos City.

(Think about your choices if it involves a person killing others out of suspicion. Think about whom you’re voting for because you might regret it if that person kills people, including children and siblings.) 

“‘Pag nangyari sa inyo na pinatay ‘yung anak ninyo, o pinatay ‘yung 4 na magkakakapatid – 4 na magkakakapatid pinatay niya e – saka pa kayo magsasabi, ‘Oh my god! What a mistake!’ You cannot afford that. Magsisi ka man, patay na ho ‘yung mahal ninyo sa buhay,” he added.

(If what happened to those 4 siblings happened to your child, then that’s the time you’ll say, “Oh my god! What a mistake!” You might regret your decision, but your loved one is already dead.)

Binay was referring to the suspected extrajudicial killings of the Alia brothers in Davao City between 2001 and 2002. They were minors in conflict with law allegedly killed by the Davao Death Squad, rumored to have ties with Duterte.

Pacquiao also refused to comment on Duterte’s controversy. 

“Hindi naman presidente ang timatakbuhan ko. Senador lang. ‘Yung level ng usapin na ‘yan, sa kanila,” he said. (I’m not running for president. Just for senator. That level of talk is for the presidential candidates.)

Kaibigan, close friend ko ‘yan. Kaibigan na kaibigan ko ‘yan,” Pacquiao added, referring to Duterte. (He is my close friend.)


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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 or tweet @maracepeda.