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Presidential aspirant and Senator Manny Pacquiao visited the vote-rich province of Batangas and gave goods and cash aid to residents who were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in 2020.
In a video sent to reporters on Friday, October 15, the “adopted son of Batangas” – based on a resolution passed by the Provincial Board in 2019 – was seen handing out relief goods and P1,000 each to people who attended the event on Thursday, October 14.
Is this part of his campaign? Technically, no, because the campaign season has not started yet and, legally, there is no such thing as premature campaigning. But this shows the different shades of gray in campaign ethics. (READ: Election money starts changing hands as voters’ registration deadline nears)
In a media interview on Friday, Pacquiao said that he has been helping out people since 2002, as he was asked about “early campaigning” by giving out money.
“Pwede mong masabing vote-buying kung ngayon ko lang ginagawa, pero noon pa ‘yan eh. Habit ko ‘yan eh – bago pa mag-pandemya at nagdesisyon ako tumakbo. Namimigay ako ng ganyan mula pang 2002 hanggang ngayon, patuloy akong namimigay nga ayuda…at pabahay,” Pacquiao said, adding the money was out of his own pocket.
(You can say this is vote-buying if I did it only now, but I’ve been doing that. That’s my habit – even before the pandemic and before I decided to run. I’ve been handing out aid since 2002 and up to now, I still give out aid and even housing.)
In a separate statement on Friday, the Pacquiao camp explained that the senator gave cash aid to “fulfill” the promise he made to Batangas residents in November 2020. Some 7,000 residents attended the event.
“Pacquiao first visited Batangas to distribute relief and extend financial support during the eruption of Taal in January 2020. He followed this up with another relief assistance visit in November 2020 where he promised that he would return after his fight to provide more help,” the statement read.
Trip around vote-rich Batangas
Aside from handing out cash and relief goods, Pacquiao also went around Batangas.
As the turf of his colleague, Pacquiao visited Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto on Thursday.
A day later, on Friday, the Rectos endorsed the bid of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
Pacquiao also visited the Lipa Public Market where droves of people welcomed him and his running mate House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza. There he bought sacks of Barako coffee to show his support and to supposedly get an insight into how the government could support the local coffee industry.
“Kailangan nating i-develop at lalong palaguin ang ating coffee industry dahil usong-uso ngayon ang kape sa buong mundo,” Pacquiao said.
(We need to develop and grow our coffee industry because [drinking] coffee is a trend around the globe.)
He also paid a courtesy call to Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa, as well as Archbishop Gilbert Garcera where he “sought for spiritual guidance.”
In 2016, then-Davao City mayor Duterte was the presidential bet who won in Batangas, with a narrow lead over Senator Grace Poe. In third place was Binay. – Rappler.com