Closing his low rating in opinion polls, Senator and former boxing star Emanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao says his poor roots make him the best person to run for president, as he warns voters to avoid corrupt candidates.
Mr Pacquiao also questioned why people supported Ferdinand. Marcos, Jr., the current frontrunner for the May 9 vote, points to the plunder of the country’s resources during his late father’s harsh authoritarian rule.
“Corruption is at the root of our country’s problems, so will we vote for the candidate who is tainted by corruption?” What has happened to us as a nation? Where is our intelligence? ” Mr Pacquiao made the remarks in an interview with Reuters late Thursday night.
In the latest poll, Mr. Pacquiao is fourth with 6%, well behind Mr. Marcos, who is ahead with 56%.
The current senator has made the fight against corruption the focus of his campaign, with Marcos vowing to step up efforts to recover the billions of dollars lost since the fall of the dictatorship in 1986, as part of his anti-corruption platform.
Mr Marcos’ family was accused of plundering an estimated $ 10 billion during his late father’s two-decade reign, which he spent on jewelry, real estate and works of art, including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
“Why are we in poverty? Say we don’t have money? Wrong. Because of corruption, “said Mr. Pacquiao at his campaign headquarters.
Mr Marcos’s camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the candidate had previously said he could not apologize for what his father had done.
Mr Pacquiao has also discussed regional disputes in the South China Sea with incumbent President Rodrigo and Duterte. He said he would not be persecuted by China if he won the presidency.
“I dare you, disturb the Filipino fishermen and I am the one you have to face,” Mr Pacquiao said in a statement addressed to China. “Harassment is not in my vocabulary.”
Whenever Manila accuses Filipino fishermen of its actions, China reiterates its demand for sovereignty over the disputed waters.
Mr Duterte has been criticized by China for not dealing further with its military, coast guard and fishing fleet in the waters around the islands, arguing that it was meaningless because Manila had nothing to do with Beijing’s military might.
If necessary, Mr. Pacquiao promised to deploy naval ships in the disputed waters to protect his country’s fishermen, saying he valued his country’s relationship with the United States, which he called “our best friend.”
The only person to have won boxing world titles in eight different categories, Mr. Pacquiao retired from boxing in September when the sport brought him a lot of resources to drive him from humble beginnings to do strange things to survive as a dirty-poor young man.
Mr Pacquiao said he was not disturbed by his low rating in the polls, but strongly believed that the poor would vote for him on election day.
His poor start made him the best person to run for president, because he understood what it was like to be poor, he said.
“If we’re going to talk about poverty, it’s not Manny Pacquiao’s idea. I’ve felt it and I’m alive, and that’s why I want to get people out of poverty,” he said. Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales / Reuters