URDANETA CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao said he doesn’t believe that Pangasinan province is part of the “Solid North” – the bailiwick of Marcoses – after he was received warmly by residents.
On the second day of his campaign in Pangasinan, on Thursday, March 3, Pacquiao was “adopted” by Barangay Poblacion Oeste in Dagupan City. Dozens from the barangay watched his speech, promising housing for all and improved fishing practices for the residents of the so-called bangus capital of the Philippines.
In a media interview, the boxing champion-turned-politician talked about his trip so far.
“Do’n sa sinasabi nilang Solid North, ’di naman pala Solid North,” Pacquiao answered. (What they say about “Solid North,” it’s not really “solid” North.)
“Nakikita ko yung suporta ng tao, mga mainit na pagtanggap sakin dito,” he added. (I really saw the support of the people, how warmly they received me.)
And he did show numbers.
On Wednesday, March 2, dozens of teachers and senior citizens went to see Pacquiao in Binmaley town.
In the provincial capital of Lingayen , Pacquiao attended on Thursday a prayer rally hosted by Christian groups who support his bid. The venue was visibly full, with the Pacquiao camp saying attendees could have reached as many as 2,000 people.
In a community forum in Urdaneta City, the crowd was estimated to be at around 3,000 people – the venue’s capacity according to the police in the area. Farmers, barangay social and health workers, tricycle drivers, and market vendors attended the event, excited to see the boxing champion and to tell him about their problems.
Pacquiao said he would push for strengthening local autonomy if elected president. Urdaneta City Mayor Rammy Parayno seemed to echo Pacquiao’s promises when he addressed the crowd, telling them that barangay health workers would no longer have to practically beg for salary increases because of Pacquiao’s promise on local autonomy.
Mayor Parayno and Vice Mayor Jimmy Parayno joined Pacquiao on the stage.
Pacquiao also said that he wants the Philippines to export local products. For Pangasinenses, he wants to support their livelihood, give capital to those who do not have it, and provide new technological innovations so that fishing would be faster.
“Farmer din ako noong araw. ’Yung mga pangako, mga promise, noon pa natin naririnig ’yan na tulungan ang mga farmers. Kaya ’pag tayo naupo, sisiguraduhin ko ang mga farmers giginhawa sa buhay. Ang gobyerno mismo ang bibili sa kanilang mga bigas,” he said.
(I was a farmer before. Promises – we keep on hearing that they will help the farmers. But I, for sure, will make sure that I will help the farmers to have a comfortable life. The government would be buying their produce.)
Pangasinan has the 3rd most number of voters among provinces, with about 2.1 million registered voters this coming 2022 national and local elections.
The province is part of the Ilocos Region, the so-called “Solid North.” In 2016, 60% of Pangasinenses voted for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. when he was running for the vice presidency.
Pacquiao’s housing project also sticks.
At Lingayen City Hall, a community organizer showed Pacquiao a stack of paper with thousands of signatures, according to his camp.
At Barangay Poblacion Oeste and Urdaneta, people were excited to see Pacquiao but more so to sign up for this housing project. Outside the two venues, people were lining up just to sign the form.
Pacquiao said that if he is elected, he won’t discriminate. Everyone who signed up for his housing project would get one, regardless of who they vote for.
“Kahit na mag-BBM, kahit na mag-Isko kayo o kahit na mag-Leni kayo, pwede kayo mag-apply kasi ’pag ako naging pangulo, hindi porket BBM ka, Leni ka, ’di porket ano ka. Basta ako nanalo, wala kong pipiliin. Basta mahal ko ang sambayanang Pilipino,” Pacquiao told Lingayen residents.
(Even if you vote for BBM, or Isko, or even Leni, you ca apply for the housing project because if I become a President, I would not discriminate even if you vote for BBM or Leni or anyone else. If I win, I won’t choose. I love Filipino citizens.)
Pacquiao has been giving out housing for free. He has projects in Uganda, Sarangani, and upcoming developments in Cebu, Cavite, and Batangas.
But it is also part of his platform as a presidential candidate. Pacquiao is banking on the support of the poor, coming from poverty himself, to prop his candidacy. – Rappler.com