2022 Philippine Elections

Moreno-Pacquiao volunteer group decides to back Isko for president

Pia Ranada
Moreno-Pacquiao volunteer group decides to back Isko for president
(1st UPDATE) A statement from Senator Manny Pacquiao says they were 'relieved' with MP Nation's departure and called the group a 'sham that was created... to justify fund-raising schemes'

A group of volunteers that had earlier mobilized to support an Isko Moreno-Manny Pacquiao tandem for the May 2022 elections has decided which of the two candidates they would back for president.

“We are now supporting Mayor Isko’s bid for president,” said Dani Enriquez, a former officer of the Philippine Air Force who leads the group called MP Nation, in a message to Rappler on Tuesday, November 2.

They have changed their name, which stood for Moreno-Pacquiao Nation, to IM4P or Isko Moreno 4 President.

Enriquez estimates “at least 70%” of their group back the decision of their executive committee to go with Moreno instead of the iconic boxing champion turned lawmaker. He says IM4P has members in 78 provinces, 120 cities, and 1,109 municipalities totaling to around 35,000.

Why Isko and not Manny?

Enriquez says he and Pacquiao have been friends since 2004. But he didn’t personally inform him of the group’s decision to support Moreno’s presidential bid.

It was “very hard” for Enriquez and other members to shift allegiances but he said they picked Moreno because they felt he would be more competent as chief executive.

“We looked forward and realized that for the country to be able to rebuild and recover, we will be needing a president that not only has the best interest for the Filipinos but one who already has the skills of a manager or an executive and has excellent leadership qualities,” Enriquez told Rappler.

But a Moreno-Pacquiao tandem would have “completed our dreams,” said the volunteer.

The tandem had been floated weeks before the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2022 elections but both Moreno and Pacquiao did not want to slide down to become the other politician’s running mate.

Analysts have pointed out the similarities between Moreno’s and Pacquiao’s candidacies. Both of roughly the same age, the two climbed their way out of poverty to become influential politicians.

Moreno, however, took the path of local government, serving as councilor, vice mayor, and then mayor over the course of two decades. Pacquiao used his boxing career as a stepping stone to politics, first serving as Sarangani congressman then senator. In both positions, he had been criticized for being an absentee lawmaker. He has been in government for a decade.

MP Nation is a sham, says Pacquiao team

The camp of Pacquiao, later on Tuesday, said they were “relieved” that Enriquez and MP Nation decided to support Moreno. They called the group a “sham” to justify “fund-raising schemes.”

The senator’s people accused Enriquez of making off with “truckloads” of personal protective equipment that Pacquiao were supposed to be donations to front liners. They also allege that Enriquez tried to set up Pacquiao’s campaign headquarters without the lawmaker’s approval and then planned to charge “hefty” rental fees.

Enriquez denied the Pacquiao’s camp’s allegations.

“Wow! This is not true,” he said in a message. Enriquez denied using the group to raise funds for personal use.

“I never used Senator Manny’s name for fund-raising. All my prospective donors, I brought directly to Senator Manny and I have Senator Manny as witness to that,” he said.

He added that the setting up of his group’s headquarters was a “volunteer activity” and was at the expense of MP Nation members.

As to the allegation about making off with PPEs, Enriquez claimed the container vans of face masks and other medical equipment were received directly by the Philippine government at Camp Crame. They were consigned to the Department of Social Welfare and Development but with the description, “Attention: Senator Manny Pacquiao.” – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.