MANILA, Philippines – Aspiring president Senator Manny Pacquiao visibly struggled in explaining his stance on controversial topics, spoiling his performance at the CNN Philippines debate.
On Sunday, February 27, select presidential candidates were asked about their stance on civil unions for same-sex couples and divorce. Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Panfilo Lacson said they supported civil unions but not same-sex marriage.
Pacquiao’s uncompromising position against civil unions nor same-sex marriage was not new. In fact, he has explained this in several fora and interviews.
But during the CNN Philippines debate, he struggled in trying to make sense of his respect for the community while at the same time being unsupportive of the community’s much-desired right and legal cover.
It also appeared that he did not differentiate civil unions from same-sex marriage.
“Hindi natin sila ina-underestimate. Mataas ang respeto natin sa kanila. Pero ’pag yung sinasabi nating magsasama sa lalaki sa lalaki, tutol po ako d’yan. At kailangan maging pantay tayo, pare-pareho tayo dito sa bansa natin na walang pinapaburan anumang klase na tao. Pero ’yung sinasabi natin na pagdating sa same-sex marriage ay against po ako d’yan,” the senator said.
(We are not underestimating them. We have high respect for them. But allowing unions of men-to-men, I am against that. We have to practice equality, in such a way that we don’t favor any kind of people. But same-sex marriage, I am really against that.)
A born-again Christian, Pacquiao said he believed that allowing same-sex unions would equate to sinning.
“Kasi mahirap naman ’yung pipilitin mo yung sarili para sangayunan mo sila na magkakasala ka naman sa Panginoon,” he said.
(It is not good when you force yourself to agree with them but that would mean sinning against our Lord.)
Candidates were also asked about how they plan to help underprivileged spouses who can’t afford to through annulment but want to end their marriage.
For Pacquiao, marriage should not be terminated at all costs. He took his time to say that marriage was a “commitment with the Lord” and went back to his usual stance on various topics that “education is needed.”
“Alamin nang mabuti at kailangan din natin ituro ’yung pagiging asawa. Educate sila bago sila mag-asawa dahil hindi po biro na mag-aasawa ka tapos wi-withdraw ka lang,” he said.
(There has to be an understanding as well a need for knowing how to be a spouse. We need to educate them before marriage because marriage is not a joke where you can just withdraw when you want.)
Before these questions, Pacquiao was doing fine during the debate.
The boxing champion-turned-politician has gleaned from experience – a move that seemed to answer critics’ concerns over his inexperience in public service.
Pacquiao mentioned that when he was a congressman, he wanted to “punch” Janet Napoles when her camp tried to talk him into participating in the pork barrel scam.
He also dropped his experience as the Senate public works committee chairperson when he discussed his push for more skyways to address traffic congestion. Mobility advocates, however, do not agree that more road infrastructure would solve the transport crisis in Metro Manila.
Pacquiao also made it a point to show his sincerity and goodwill, when he mentioned that his donations during the pandemic has reached P2 billion.
“Ang importante dito sa bansa natin magkaron tayo ng lider na may totoong pagmamahal at malasakit sa ating bayan. ’Yung nakadama sa nararamdaman ng mga nagugutom, mga nawalan ng tahanan, trabaho, yun ang kailangan nating lider dito sa ating bansa,” he said as he explained why he ran for the presidency.
(What is important here is to have a leader who truly loves and cares for the country. Someone who has experienced how to be hungry; someone who has experienced losing a house, a job – that is the kind of leader that we need.)
The senator said that he supports increasing the salaries of health workers and that he wants to raise the monthly minimum wage to around P20,000 to P30,000.
If elected president, he said that he will make sure that in his first 100 days, his mega prison project will be rolling. Pacquiao promised to jail corrupt government officials and employees in this mega prison.
During the debate, Pacquiao spoke against another presidential bet, Jose Montemayor, who put debt servicing in a bad light. He explained that borrowing money is not inherently wrong as long as there are returns.
However, it seemed that Pacquiao does not subscribe to deficit budgeting. The Philippines has a yearly budget deficit, borrowing money for expenditures such as infrastructure, as the country follows an expansionary fiscal policy.
“Okay lang mangutang kung may investment tayong ilalagay.… Hindi masama ‘yun kasi may income return. Pero kung nangutang tayo dahil sa expenses natin taon-taon ay ‘yun po ay talagang masasabi ko mismanaged ang bansa natin,” he said.
(It is fine to borrow money as long we use it for an investment… It is not bad if there is an income return. But if we are borrowing because of our expenses every year, I think we are mismanaging our country.)
Towards the end, Pacquiao also said that if he does not win, he hopes that, at the very least, the next president should be someone who is not corrupt.
“Kung hindi man si Manny Pacquiao, I’m hoping na ang Panginoon maglagay ng isang godly person, godly leader na may takot sa panginoon at tunay na nagmamahal sa ating bansa. Hindi nagnanakaw, hindi materialistic, hindi mahalaga ang pera kundi magseserbisyo lamang sa taong bayan,” he said.
(If Manny Pacquiao does not win, I’m hoping that the Lord installs [a president who is] a godly person, a godly leader, who fears the Lord and truly loves our country. Someone who is not a thief, not materialistic, and does not prioritize earning money but serving our countrymen.) – Rappler.com