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Pacquiao admits distributing P1K each in Batangas but denies vote-buying

Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday admitted that he distributed money at an event in Batangas on Thursday but denied it was vote buying.

“Yes, totoo po ‘yan namigay tayo ng tulong, grocery, bigas, at pera na tag-iisang libo,” he said in an interview with reporters Friday.

(It’s true that we distributed relief packs, rice packs, and P1,000 to each beneficiary.)

“Hindi [ito vote-buying] kasi ‘yung pamimigay ng pera at bigas 2002 ko pa ginagawa ‘yan,” he said.

(This is not vote-buying because I’ve been giving away rice packs and cash since 2002.)

The lawmaker said they also reminded the crowd to observe physical distancing. 

"Hindi tayo nagkulang ng paalala sa mga tao. In fact yung mga pulis natin may placard na ‘social distancing.’ Pinaalalahanan natin sila na para makatulong sa ating gobyerno ay sumunod tayo sa protocol na ipinapatupad ng IATF," he said. 

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is currently investigating whether the event violated the ban on mass gatherings amid the pandemic, according to Sandra Aguinaldo's report on "24 Oras" on Friday.

"The report we received from Batangas is just a raw report and we are waiting for the formal report from the PNP (Philippine National Police) on the matter. Investigation is currently ongoing," the agency said. 

Pacquiao has filed his certificate of candidacy for president under the PROMDI party.

“Mula noon hanggang ngayon, may eleksyon man o walang eleksyon, habit ko na mamigay pag nakita ko may nangangailangan, nagugutom,” Pacquiao said.

(We are doing this with or without an election. It’s already my habit to give aid every time I see someone in need.)

Pacquiao said that the money he distributed did not come from government funds.

“Ito parang pilosopo. Ano gusto niyo mamigay ako ng pera o magnakaw ako?” he added.

(Which would you prefer? That I distribute my money or that I steal public funds?)

On Thursday, Pacquiao visited Balayan, Batangas and distributed relief packs to some 7,000 victims of Taal Volcano eruption.

Prior to this, Pacquiao visited Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa, as well as Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and his wife, Batangas Congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto. -NB, GMA News