Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is facing a challenge in his plan to organize a massive political rally for United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay in Sarangani province since his local political party machinery in General Santos City and South Cotabato is supporting PDP-Laban Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the presidential race.
Pacquiao, founder of the People’s Champ Movement (PCM) and running under UNA, is trying to reconcile his party machinery and supporters to convince them to switch support to Binay.
While Pacquiao represents Sarangani in Congress, the boxing champion traces his roots to General Santos City, where he failed in his early congressional bid before venturing into the neighboring province of Sarangani.
“Sa aming hanay na taga suporta kay Cong. Pacquiao ay di mawawala ang aming boto pero kung sa usaping engganyuhin n’ya kaming susuporta kay Binay ay di mangyayari ‘yun dahil si Duterte ang aming kandidato [As steadfast supporters of Cong. Pacquiao he is assured of our votes, but we cannot be persuaded to support Binay since Duterte is our candidate],” said Cerilo Catalan, campaign leader of Pacquiao for Senator and Duterte for president.
Ryan Rivera who is running for congressman in the first district of General Santos City and South Cotabato under the PDP-Laban, gave his support to Duterte and Independent vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. instead of Binay’s running mate Sen. Gringo Honasan.
General Santos Mayor Rivera, however, said the political machinery of his RCR local party, is supporting Pacquiao, but is not committed to any other political party.
Rivera, however, did not say whom he is supporting in the highest position but gives his constituents the freedom of choice their candidates.
“I want to avoid misunderstanding between Pacquiao and Duterte or to any other party, that is why I am giving my people their freedom of choice to who they want to support because as far as I know, registered voters here in GenSan have different candidates,” Rivera said.
Meanwhile, Pedro Acharon Jr., incumbent 1st district representative of General Santos City and South Cotabato, said that their Achievers with Integrity Movement (AIM), a local political party founded by former General Santos mayor Adelbert Antonino, said they will draw a crowd of over 300,000 in the coming political rally in the city before the May 9 polls. He said this will turn into votes for Sec. Mar Roxas and his vice presidential candidate Rep. Leni Robredo.
But the Catholic congregation in Socsksargen area said they are not endorsing any candidate. Instead, they reminded voters to choose the right leader to be the next president of the country except Duterte, according to Imelda Olano, an active church leader here.