Campaign manager Pacquiao endorses non-PDP-Laban senatorial bets

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao, campaign manager of PDP-Laban, is endorsing candidates outside the 5-member slate of the ruling party.

In a Rappler Talk interview taped on Thursday, February 28, Pacquiao enumerated the names of senatorial bets he is endorsing – a total of 13 candidates, more than the number of seats up for grabs.

Pacquiao is also endorsing these 8 other candidates:

Pacquiao’s own slate adds to the seeming confusion, as it puts the number of administration slates to 3. President Rodrigo Duterte has his own 12 candidates, while presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has her own 13 Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates.

Majority of the names are common candidates of the 3 slates.

For Pacquiao, this is a non-issue, as long as he and Duterte are supporting the 5 core candidates of PDP-Laban. He, however, also attended PDP-Laban rallies – in Bulacan and in Cebu – with President Duterte's preferred candidates.

“Malaki 'yung role ni President dito at ako, dalawa kaming nag-e-endorse. Talagang inuuna namin 'yung official candidates ng PDP-Laban and then 'yung iba, guest candidates. Although hindi pare-pareho na sinusuportahn namin, as long as official candidates ng PDP-Laban ay inuuna,” Pacquiao told Rappler. 

(The President and I have big roles here because we are endorsing the candidates. We prioritize the official candidates of PDP-Laban and then guest candidates. Although our slates may differ, it is fine as long as we prioritize the [5 PDP-Laban] official candidates.)

Corruption issues vs chosen bets

Pacquiao defended his choice of Estrada, Revilla, and Marcos, saying he would rather not judge them on corruption allegations. 

Estrada and Revilla faced plunder charges over the multibillion pork barrel scam. The Sandiganbayan already acquitted Revilla while Estrada is out on bail.

“May government naman tayo at batas na nirerespeto natin. Kung ano 'yung ano ng batas, basta ako in my heart gusto ko sila suportahan,” Pacquiao said of the two former senators who were jailed for allegedly earning commissions from their pork barrel. 

Meanwhile, the family of Imee Marcos is accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Martial law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

Asked about Imee’s fake graduation from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and Princeton University, a hesitant Pacquiao said:

“Masasabi ko mahirap mag-comment ng ganyan, buhay niya 'yan eh. Kailangan lang siguro niya na i-prove na dun siya.... Kung wala, bakit mo i-insist? Kung meron, panindigan mo,” he said.

(What I can say is, it's tricky to comment on that, because that's her life. She probably just needs to prove that she graduated from there.... If you didn't graduate, then why insist that you did? If you did, then stand by it.)

Imee insisted on her graduation but Princeton’s official student publication and the school administration already said she did not. UP also denied having records of Imee’s graduation. –


Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email