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Can Pacquiao​ ​turn the tide for Binay​ ​in Mindanao​?

SARANGANI, Philippines — Sarangani Representative and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao goes on the campaign trail only for the second time with Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Pacquiao says he can draw crowds for the United Nationalist Alliance's (UNA) remaining sorties.

Mara Cepeda reports. 

Fresh from his victory over Timothy Bradley Jr, boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao hosts Vice President Jejomar Binay in his home province.

Pacquiao, a senatorial candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance, welcomes his standard-bearer with two proclamation rallies  – one in Alabel town and another in General Santos City. 

The People’s Champ says his presence in sorties in the last 3 weeks of the campaign will likely attract bigger crowds for UNA.

MANNY PACQUIAO, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The help I can give the Vice President, who will become the president, is to let people know about his accomplishments.

This is only the second time Pacquiao has joined the campaign trail because he was training for his fight against boxer Timothy Bradley. 

Pacquiao unanimously won the match, which he says may work in UNA's favor for the elections.

MANNY PACQUIAO, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: 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. Maybe that's a big help so that more people can hear about their platform.

But Pacquiao has his work cut out for him in Mindanao, the stronghold of his friend Mayor Rodrigo ​Duterte. 

The latest poll shows ​58% of Mindanaoans prefer the tough-talking mayor.

Only 13% go for the Vice President, so why is Pacman still supporting Binay?

MANNY PACQUIAO, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I support the VP because he feels the heart of the poor for he came from that kind of life. 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 makes because that's where I came from.

Binay has no doubts on Pacquiao’s support.

JEJOMAR BINAY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever he says is final. We have one party – UNA. We have one advocacy: to lift our countrymen out of poverty.

In General Santos City, the Vice President also takes a jab at Mindanao favorite Duterte.

JEJOMAR BINAY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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. 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.

T​he Davao City mayor is currently under fire for joking about the rape-slay of an Australian lay missionary. Duterte’s camp has since apologized.

Candidates are on the homestretch of their campaign with 20 days left before the May 9 elections. Can the endorsement of boxing superstar Pacquiao be enough to give Binay the lead in Mindanao?

Mara Cepeda, Rappler, Sarangani

– Rappler.com