Miriam-Bongbong, Binay won't drop Pacquiao from senatorial slate


MANILA - Despite his controversial remark against same-sex relationships, boxing icon Manny Pacquiao remains firmly rooted in the senatorial line-ups of two presidential candidates.

Both the camps of aspiring presidents Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senators Miriam Santiago on Friday defended Pacquiao after the boxer said people in homosexual relationships are "worse than animals."

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Santiago's running mate, said they cannot just simply drop candidates due to their personal opinions.

"You cannot punish somebody for having an opinion," Marcos said.

The vice presidential candidate also claimed that outrage against Pacquiao is short of religious persecution.

"It's like persecuting somebody for his religious belief," he said. "If the people do not agree with it, they do not agree with it."

Marcos said they will let the electorate decide if Pacquiao is worthy of their support.

"Ang tao na ang maghuhusga. Lahat ng tao may karapatan mag-opinyon. Kung iyun ang opinyon niya, pabayaan natin siya," Marcos said.

Binay, for his part, said the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) finds no reason to drop Pacquiao from their senatorial slate.

"Nag-sorry na nga 'yung tao eh," Binay reasoned in an ambush interview after speaking before the Chinese-Filipino Business Club Inc.

UNA president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco added that their party will also support the LGBT community and push for the anti-discrimination bill.

But asked whether UNA is for or against same-sex marriage, Tiangco said the issue is too complicated and still needs discussion.

Tiangco also noted that if Pacquiao will file bills reflecting his personal view when elected as senator, his proposed laws will still have to undergo deliberation in Congress.

Pacquiao has come under fire for his remarks. His statement also cost him an endorsement deal with Nike.

Pacquiao has since apologized for the controversy but remained firm in his religious convictions.

READ: Pacquiao refuses to back down on gay slurs

Pacquiao is also a guest candidate in the senatorial line-up of PDP-Laban led by Davao Mayor Rodrigo. -- With reports from Ron Gagalac and Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

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