Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday took his campaign to Manila on a train and met with vendors who have regularly been a target of extortion and clearing operations.
Taking the PNR train in Makati, Pacquiao was accompanied by PDP-Laban senatorial candidate Lutz Barbo.
Vendors shared their stories of hardships with Pacquiao who was also once a street vendor before becoming a boxing superstar.
Altura Vendors Association president Rosita Ching said that their life even got worse when the COVID-19 pandemic hit because they had to stop selling due to the quarantine lockdowns.
“Napakahirap po ng kabuhayan namin ngayon. Lalo na ngayong pandemya napakatumal. Sa iyo po kami umaasa, “ Ching said.
Mayen Regino, head of the PUP Vendors Association, shared how she lost her only means of livelihood after she and her fellow vendors near the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) were forcibly evicted by local government authorities.
“Pwersahan kaming pinaalis. Pinilit kaming umalis. Pag ayaw naming umalis, kinukuha ang tinda namin. Wala naman pong inilaan para mapaglipatan namin," Regino said.
Pacquiao said, if elected president, his administration will provide free decent homes for all homeless families and extend zero-to-low interest loans for those who want to set up small businesses.
He said that providing capital for vendors and other micro, small and medium enterprises will not only help provide livelihood for jobless Filipinos and but would also perk up the country’s economy.
Pacquiao added that under his administration, he would not allow clearing operations for vendors without any prior relocation program.
Meanwhile, the senator credited President Duterte for improving the country’s oldest train system after experiencing taking the PNR.
Pacquiao said he would continue President Duterte’s program to modernize the country’s rail and mass transport network.
If elected president, he would build another rail system on top of the existing one as part of his plan to decongest Metro Manila traffic.
The old line will be used for containers and cargo while the elevated rail system will be for commuter trains.
“Railway is the most effective, cheapest, and most environmental friendly mode of moving goods and people. Bibigyan natin ng focus yan, “ Pacquiao said.