2022 Philippine Elections

Manny Pacquiao: Better life for Filipinos means knocking out corruption

Aika Rey
Manny Pacquiao: Better life for Filipinos means knocking out corruption

PROCLAMATION RALLY. Aspiring president Manny Pacquiao speaks in his proclamation rally in General Santos City.

Rappler

Aspiring president Manny Pacquiao wants to show that he's not all talk – he has already done what he has promised with his own money

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – In front of thousands of Mindanaoans, Manny Pacquiao recounted his rags-to-riches story.

Pacquiao officially started his presidential campaign on Tuesday, February 8, in his hometown General Santos City – the only presidential candidate to hold a campaign kick-off in Mindanao.

“Why here in Gensan? Because Manny Pacquiao’s dreams started here in Gensan when he was young, so that he could help his family and relatives to overcome poverty and have a good life. It was here in Gensan,” he said in Bisaya, referring to himself in the third person.

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When he was a teenager, aside from being an amateur boxer he said he worked as a construction worker, a tailor, and a vendor. He remembered when he used to sleep in Luneta Park and on the pavement of other sidewalks along Manila.

He said he experienced how difficult it was to live in poverty and so he knows what he needs to do if elected president.

“Ito ang storya ng aking buhay. Alam ‘nyo ang hirap ng buhay na pinagdaanan ko. Maaring hindi ‘nyo pa naranasan,” he said. (This is the story of my life. The hardships I experienced. Maybe you have not experienced this.)

For Pacquiao, corruption is the reason why Filipinos remain poor. He said that politicians tend to only think about what they will do in the next three or six years in office, instead of coming up with a vision and implementing a master plan for the next few decades.

“What these greedy politicians did was to make the government a source of livelihood. They [made] it their sustainable livelihood, these greedy politicians,” he said in a mix of Bisaya and English.

“If I become the president of the Philippines, the thieves in government – appointed or elected, big or small, and even known figures – you will all see how I will bring them all to jail,” he added.

He said that he was not speaking as a traditional politician, but as someone who leads and protects the vulnerable.

“Pagdating ng panahon, sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na ang bawat Pilipino, panalo sa laban ni Manny Pacquiao. Sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na ang bawat Pilipino may trabaho at hinahanap ng trabaho. At sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na walang mahirap na agrabyado at walang inaapi, na ang batas ng Pilipinas walang mahirap, walang mayaman. At sisiguraduhin ko sa inyo na walang pamilya na walang tahanan,” he said. 

(When the time comes, I will make sure that every Filipino will win in Manny Pacquiao’s fight. I will make sure that every Filipino has a job and that jobs are looking for them. I will make sure that not a single poor Filipino will be taken advantage and oppressed, that the laws of the Philippines will be applied equally regardless of class. And I will make sure that no Filipino family will be homeless.)

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No VP in rally

Atienza was unable to attend the proclamation rally due to a sprain. In a media interview, Pacquiao said that he told Atienza to skip the event.

“‘Diyan ka na lang muna.… Huwag mo na lang pilitin ang ano mo dahil mahaba pa ang lalakbayin natin, laban natin,'” Pacquiao remembered telling Atienza. (Stay there. Do not force yourself because we have a long way ahead of us.)

Manny Pacquiao: Better life for Filipinos means knocking out corruption

Aside from Atienza joining virtually, most senatoriables part of Pacquiao’s slate were no-shows and sent recorded messages instead. Only broadcaster Raffy Tulfo and former governor Lutgardo Barbo attended the rally in person, while Senator Sherwin Gatchalian was represented by celebrity girlfriend Bianca Manalo.

Pacquiao also did not invest in too many performances, aside from Freddie Aguilar and Fliptop emcee Jonas Dichoso who are supporting his presidential bid.

While it seemed like Pacquiao’s rally lacked power punches, it was his mother Dionisia, also called Mommy D, who delighted the audience. In her speech, Mommy D said she hesitated at first when told about his son’s plan to run for the top post, noting it would cost a lot of money.

“When he ran for the first time here in General Santos, I cried because I saw we were losing sacks of money,” said Mommy D in Bisaya as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Manny Pacquiao: Better life for Filipinos means knocking out corruption
‘Nothing is impossible’

On Wednesday, February 9, Pacquiao unveiled his massive free housing program in Alabel, Saranggani. The tour was supposed to be a part of his itinerary on Tuesday but it was later moved to the following day.

This free housing program that he speaks of is proof that it can be done and he has already done it with his own money.

Pacquiao wants to show that he’s not all talk – he has already done it.

HOUSING. Pacquiao’s ‘Pacman Village’ in Alabel, Saranggani.

“In God, all things are possible,” Pacquiao said. “Walang impossible. Basta may dedication ka lang, may pagmamahal ka, at gusto mo. Basta ginusto mo lahat may paraan. (Nothing is impossible. As long as you have dedication, you love it, and you really want it. If you really want it, there is a way.)”

Pacquiao said that he wants all homeless Filipinos and the poor who are renting to be given a free house. He estimates that some 10 million Filipinos will need one.

He said that if elected president, he will build high-rise buildings as part of his housing program in Metro Manila, similar to what is being done in Singapore. He said this will also help in waste management.

“Hindi lang pabahay ang ibibigay natin kung ‘di yung (We’re not only giving out housing, but also) livelihood – sustainable livelihood,” he said. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.