Manny Pacquiao denies vote-buying in Batangas after the presidential aspirant handed out cash and relief goods to Taal Volcano eruption victims on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
In a media interview held Friday, Pacquiao told reporters that giving aid to people in need has been a "habit" of his since 2002.
He said, "Habit ko iyan, e, bago pa mag-pandemya at nagdesisyon ako tumakbo. Namimigay ako ng ganyan mula pang 2002 hanggang ngayon, patuloy akong namimigay nga ayuda…at pabahay."
The world boxing champion's camp later explained in a separate statement that Pacquiao’s visit was a follow-through to a promise he made to Taal volcano eruption victims in November 2020.
The statement read: "Pacquiao first visited Batangas to distribute relief and extend financial support during the eruption of Taal in January 2020. He followed this up with another relief assistance visit in November 2020 where he promised that he would return after his fight to provide more help."
Violation of protocols?
About 7,000 victims of the Taal volcano eruption reportedly attended the event.
A report by GMA News said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is "currently investigating whether the event violated the ban on mass gatherings amid the pandemic."
In his media interview, Pacquiao assured that physical distancing was observed, and the attendees were constantly reminded to observe proper safety protocols.