Pacquiao defends giving out ₱1,000 'ayuda' in Batangas

Published October 15, 2021, 5:45 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

“Ano bang gusto niyo, mamigay ako ng pera o magnakaw?”

Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao said this Friday, Oct. 15, as he confirmed giving cash to Batangas residents in his latest visit to the province, while denying that it was a move to buy votes for his presidential bid.

Presidential aspirant Sen. Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao hands out P1,000 bills to attendees of his relief activity in Batangas on Oct. 14, 2021. Pacquiao denies it is vote buying. (Office of Sen. Pacquiao)

“Yes, totoo po ‘yan. Namigay po tayo ng tulong: Grocery, bigas saka pera na tig-iisang libo (Yes, it’s true. I gave assistance: Grocery, rice packs, and cash worth P1,000),” Pacquiao said in a press conference.

He, however, said that it was not in preparation for the 2022 elections, and that he used public funds in his activity. He maintained that he has been doing it for over two decades to “give back” to people.

“2002 ko pa ginagawa ‘yan, mula noon hanggang ngayon, may eleksyon man o wala. Talagang habit ko nang mamigay ‘pag nakita ko na maraming nangangailangan, nagugutom. Naramdaman ko kasi ang naramdaman ng mga nagugutom at nahihirapan na pamilya (I have been doing this since 2022, from then up to now, with or without an election. It has been a habit of mine to do that when I see that people are suffering and are hungry. Because I felt what these families felt),” the boxer-turned-politician said.

“Pwedeng masabi mong vote buying kung ngayon ko lang ito ginawa, kung dahil tumatakbo ako. Pero noon pa ‘yan, habit ko na ‘yan eh. Noon ko pa ginagawa yan, kahit nong bago pa nag-pandemya, bago pa ko nagfile, nagdesisyon tumakbo (You can call that vote buying if I did this only now because I am running for office. But this has been a habit. I have been doing this even before the pandemic, and before I filed and decided to run),” he said.

Pacquiao said he is using his personal money during these activities.

“Ano ba gusto niyo, mamigay ako ng pera o magnakaw ako? Mas mabuti yong mamigay kaysa magnakaw (Which would you prefer, give out money or steal? It’s better to be the one giving than to steal from people),” he said.

“Kasi ‘yong pera natin, pawis at dugo ang puhunan, eh binibigay natin sa tao, binabalik natin sa kanila, kasi naaawa tayo sa kanila (Because our money came from hardwork, which we wanted to give to people, to give back, because we pity them),” he maintained.

Aside from the cash aid, he said he has also been providing housing and educational assistance to indigent Filipinos families.

Pacquiao has been accused of vote buying after photos and videos of him handing out P1,000 bills to Batangas residents were spread on social media.

In a statement issued later by his office, Pacquiao said his visit in Batangas on Thursday, October 14, was aimed at fulfilling his “promise” to return to the province following the January, 2020 eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Before filing his candidacy for president last October 1, Pacquiao has been going around the country for relief activities, which included his distribution of P1,000 “cash gift” to attendees.

Last year, he found himself in hot water for supposedly violating health protocols during his crowd-drawing visit in Batangas.

Pacquiao is running with BUHAY Party List Representative Lito Atienza as his running mate for vice president.

He is one of the two billionaires in the Senate, declaring a net worth of P3.187 billion in his 2020 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).