On the final day of campaigning, presidential bet Manny Pacquiao reiterates he is the candidate of and for the poor
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao wrapped up the grueling 90-day campaign in his hometown General Santos City on Saturday, May 7, the place where it all started.
Back in his bailiwick, Pacquiao spoke without pretense and with “righteous anger,” as he called it, about the ills of society which he hopes to knock out if he becomes the next president of the Philippines.
After all, this is the crowd that knows Pacquiao and his story by heart. Unlike his miting de avance in Cebu, Pacquiao focused on talking about his platform rather than his own experiences of poverty and hunger.
“Si Manny Pacquiao, titindog para ipaglaban ang mga pobreng tao. Eleksyon, laban ni sa pobre versus dato,” he said.
(Manny Pacquiao will stand up to fight for the poor. This election is a fight of the poor versus the rich.)
In posturing as “the” alternative candidate, Pacquiao said that survey frontrunners have financing from the rich, whereas his candidacy is backed by the poor.
“Sila may mga kwarta, ang mga pobreng tao mas daghaan kaayo, as daghaan ang mga nagugutom. (They have money, but there are more people who are poor, there are more people who are hungry),” he said.
In the past, Pacquiao said that it was only he and his campaign manager Buddy Zamora who financed the campaign, to avoid being beholden to people who have their own agenda.
Pacquiao on Saturday also shared his disbelief in pre-election surveys as he warned survey frontrunners whom he did not name.
“They can be arrogant for topping the surveys as long they don’t cheat. Don’t cheat. Because the Lord will know if you do so,” he said in Bisaya.
Dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is leading the polls while Vice President Leni Robredo, whom Pacquiao has warm ties with, is a far second.
Pacquiao’s running mate, Lito Atienza, skipped the miting de avance on Saturday. A recorded message was played during the rally but it was meant for the Cebu rally that happened a day before, on Friday, May 6.
A change in image
Perhaps a little too late to rebrand but on Saturday, Pacquiao did away with his sportsman-like attire in favor of a polo shirt.
Pacquiao appeared to the General Santos City crowd not looking like an athlete, which seemed to be a last-ditch effort to connect with the poor.
But even if Pacquiao changed his outward appearance, his speech is a reflection of how the boxing champion-turned-politician wanted to project himself.
Pacquiao said that back then, he knew nothing about the economy, but now he is even taking a masters degree in public administration. This appears to be a direct response to critics who often criticize his capability as a leader.
In trying to prove that, he devoted 14 minutes of his close to 40-minute speech telling General Santos City residents and supporters about the four elements of gross domestic product, the country’s debt, and strengthening non-tax revenue income.
“Let me lecture,” he said in Bisaya. “This is the last rally anyway, the last day of the campaign so that the public will know my plans for economic growth,” he added.
Pacquiao also doubled down on showing he was the most honest candidate with nothing to hide.
“Is Manny Pacquiao corrupt? A womanizer? An alcoholic? A gambler? They can’t find anything bad about me,” he said.
As he ended his campaign, Pacquiao said he will show the corrupt his “righteous anger” as he hopes to create “his own legacy in public service.”
“Papakita ko man sa inyo kanang righteous anger.… na makita mo sa taumbayan na ma-preso mo [ang mga korap]… Dili lang si Manny Pacquiao nimo naghatag ug sa legacy sa sulud sa ring, kundi legacy outside the ring ang pagserbisyo sa katauhan,” he added.
(I will show you my righteous anger, showing the public that I can jail the corrupt. Manny Pacquiao wants to give you a legacy not only inside the ring, but also outside the ring by serving the people.)
Pacquiao is running under Cebu-based party PROMDI, the vehicle for his presidential candidacy following the infighting within the ruling party PDP-Laban.
The boxing icon has been hopeful that he will emerge as a “dark horse” in this race, banking on the support of Class D and E with his housing program.
Pacquiao has been consistently lagging behind in election surveys. In the last pre-election poll, Pacquiao “took over” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno for the third place at 7%