Cleared: Pacquiao dodges vote-buying, health protocol allegations
Elections

Cleared: Pacquiao dodges vote-buying, health protocol allegations

Oct 25, 2021, 4:45 AM
Jeb Israel

Jeb Israel

Writer

STO. TOMAS CITY- AFTER initially drawing a lot of flak and criticisms for his apparent total disregard of established basic health protocols and social distancing mandated by the national government during his recent visit in Batangas, Sen. Manny Pacquiao was subsequently cleared by local police, government officials.

The Comelec also absolved him of allegations of vote-buying when he was caught on camera giving away cash and goodies to people who lined-up to meet and greet him.

Certainly, if you think that Senator Manny Pacquiao already lost his own celebrity appeal, think again. You could be wrong. Dead wrong even.

The lawmaker and boxing’s rock star still has it.

Overwhelmed

In fact, so much of it that even Batangas Provincial Police chief P/Col. Glicerio Cansilao admitted that his men got overwhelmed by the sheer number of Batangueño fans, who ambled their way and stick their neck out amid Covid restrictions just to get a glimpse of the multi-titled boxing icon lawmaker from Saranggani in the flesh.

Add to it the expectant many for the promised ayuda in kind for Taal eruption victims and those anticipating his usual cash dole-outs wherever he goes and voila, social distance protocols got stretched to the hilt, raising a lot of red flags in the process.

“Yung ang nangyari doon, parang palengke...actually marami usyoso...kaya kumbaga ang ating kapulisan na-overwhelm,” Cansilao said.

The provincial police chief also said his men carried with them placards reminding people to observe social distancing throughout the Pacquiao affair.

“May hawak silang placards na nagpapaalala sa mga tao na sumunod sa social distancing,” Cansilao said.

Manny vs Isko

Another presidential candidate in Manila Mayor and actor Isko Moreno also drew a good number of people and supporters during his jaunt in Lipa City a day after Pacquiao’s visit on October 14, 2021.

But that paled in comparison to the throng of fans of the latter especially when the boxing senator stopped by the Lipa public market.

There, he stepped out of his air-conditioned Pacquiao double-decker bus and his fans went wild.

He then bought sacks of Batangas’ famous Kapeng Barako, and expressed his intent and interest in helping coffee farmers increase their harvest if he can make it in the 2022 presidential elections.

Social distancing

This time around, Cansilao said that proper social distancing was observed by fans and Pacquiao himself.

“Mayroong social distancing, at the same time ‘yung (mga) umattend doon (Pacquiao’s team), prior noon ay mayroong antigen (test) na ginawa” in an interview with a national television network.

Vote buying?

Okay, but what about with the good senator distributing cash of P1,000 apiece in an election season as seen on national television?

Isn’t this a blatant case of vote-buying?

Let’s hear it from Sen. Manny Pacquiao himself: “Yung pamimigay (ko) ng pera at bigas 2002 ko pa ginagawa yan may election man o wala. Talagang habit ko na ang pamimigay kapag nakita ko marami nahihirapan at nagugutom.”

Pressed to comment, the Commission on Elections also issued an official stand on the matter.

No vote buying

“He is a senator. It isn’t nakapagtataka that he (Sen. Manny Pacquiao) is giving relief goods. He is not yet a candidate. February pa,” Comelec Commissioner Maria Rowena Amelia Villena Guanzon.

The Cadiz City, Negros Occidental-born commissioner is referring to the official start of the campaign period for national candidates from February 8, 2021, until May 7, 2022.

On the other hand, the campaign period for local candidates starts on March 25, until May 7, 2022.

Manny also has an explanation noting that he has been helping the poor for the longest time adding that the money he handed out was from his own pocket.

Fulfilling a promise

Pacquiao’s camp also 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.

It may be recalled that the senator first visited Batangas to distribute relief and extend financial support following the January 12, 2020 Taal eruption.

He followed this up with another relief operation in November 2020 when he promised that he would return after his fight (August 21, 2021) to provide more help.

Aside from handing out cash and relief goods, Pacquiao visited other local government units in Batangas and colleague Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto.

He also gifted Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa a glass ensconced leather boxing gloves, as token for the warm reception.

Isko won though

Manny may have all the “pogi” points that day but Moreno got the better of him in the battle for Batangas votes.

One, Africa affirmed Moreno’s proposal to make Lipa a sister city of Manila, and two, the Rectos promised the actor to deliver for him one million votes come elections day.

Moreno is the standard-bearer of the late Raul Roco’s Aksyon Demokratiko while Pacquiao is endorsed by PROMDI (Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiative), the national political party founded by former Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña.

Adopted son

But perhaps, Sen. Recto, who is running unopposed as congressman for the lone district of Lipa, may have forgotten that Pacquiao is an “adopted son” of vote-rich Batangas by virtue of a 2019 Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution.

In the 2019 elections, Batangas already has a total of 1.7 million voters, and that count could hit more than two million now based on the daily kilometric queue of individuals wanting to exercise their right of suffrage in 2022.

Pacquiao tops survey

Senator Manny Pacquiao is perceived as a formidable foe among the presidential contenders.

In fact, he topped a recent Pulse Asia survey among “probable presidential candidates that will not steal from the government.”

In Pulse’s September 6-11, 2021, survey, the lawmaker from Saranggani garnered 20 points approval rating overall or throughout the Philippines based on one simple but direct question: “In your opinion, who among the probable presidential candidates will not steal from the government?”

With that score, he ended up eight points high up to his closest rival in Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who cornered 12 points, and higher still over former senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who both came up tied with 10 points apiece.

Completing the Top 10 in Pulse Asia’s latest survey were Sen. Grace Poe (9 points), Vice President Leni Robredo (5 points), Sen. Ping Lacson (5 points), Sen. Bong Go (4 points), Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (3 points), and former Senator Antonio Trillanes (1 point).

Pacquiao also led all comers in the class ABC-D-E social spectrum scoring an impressive 18-18-36 trust rating among the presidentiables who will not steal from government coffers.

Next to him in that department was Moreno, 13-11-6; BBM, 10-10-11; and Duterte, 9-14-9.

Among the probable presidentiables, the boxing senator was the first to file his candidacy for the presidency on the very first day of filing the certificate of candidacy last Friday, October 1, 2021. (IAm/OpBats)


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