(UPDATE) Hours before he marked his 43rd birthday, Sen. Manny Pacquiao appealed to his fellow presidential aspirants to use their resources in helping those affected by super typhoon Odette, instead of spending their money producing tarpaulins and other propaganda materials.
“Doon sa mga kandidato na tumatakbo, instead na ginagastos ninyo sa tarpaulin, sa social media, gastusin nyo muna, gamitin po muna natin sa pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan na nasalanta ng bagyo,” Pacquiao said at the sidelines of his aid distribution in Digos City, Davao del Sur, Thursday night.
“Nawa’y mapakinggan ninyo, maunawaan ninyo yung sinasabi ko… Nakikiusap po ako sa inyong lahat. Magkaisa tayo ngayong nangangailangan ng tulong ang ating mga kababayang nasalanta ng bagyo.”
Pacquiao also posted his message on his social media accounts, where he called on his fellow candidates to join him in helping Filipinos in areas devastated by Odette.
In a Facebook post, Pacquiao called on Vice-President Leni Robredo, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Leody de Guzman to join him in helping residents in areas ravaged by the typhoon.
"Magsama-sama tayo upang tulungan ang ating mga kababayan na nasalanta ng bagyo. Now is the time to come together as one. Tulungan natin sila," Pacquiao posted.
The senator also reposted his message on Twitter, where Robredo already expressed her support.
"Joining you in this call, Sen. Manny," Robredo replied to Pacquiao.
Pacquiao also said his team has already prepared cargo planes for better response.
Pacquiao initially said he will immediately visit those areas battered by Odette so he could personally see the situation and distribute aid to typhoon victims.
But latest information coming from his camp dawn of Friday indicated that the senator will send relief goods and other items needed by typhoon victims, to be transported by the 3 helicopters already contracted by Pacquiao’s office.
This, according to Pacquiao’s office, is to ensure that relief and rescue teams’ operations will not be distracted, and that all resources of government, including the needed manpower, will be focused to typhoon victims.
As of 2 a.m. Friday, Pacquiao was contacting his friends, asking them to assist the typhoon victims, his staff said.
Pacquiao in an earlier interview appealed to his friends not to give him a present.
“ ’Yung mga kaibigan ko na gustong mag-regalo sa akin, huwag na lang sa akin, doon na lang sa nasalanta ng bagyo. Lalong-lalo na doon banda sa Siargao, medyo naapektuhan talaga sila. So yung magbibigay sa akin ng birthday gift, doon na lang siguro sa mga kababayan na nasalanta,” Pacquiao said.
“OK pa naman ako. Sa awa ng Panginoon. Tutulong din ako sa ating mga kababayan na nasalanta.”
Pacquiao said he has already cancelled his scheduled December 17 birthday celebration in consideration to the situation of typhoon victims.
“May selebrasyon pa rin, pero dinner lang para sa mga kaibigan,” he said.
Despite the cancellation of his party, aid will still be distributed to the needy as part of his thanksgiving, Pacquiao said.
“Marami talagang nagugutom, lalo na sa lugar at kailangan nila yun. Kaya nga, ’yung iba, instead na 5,000 (food bags), gawin lang muna nating 2,000, tapos yung iba, itulong natin doon na sa mga nasalanta,” Pacquiao said.
In Digo, Pacquiao led the people in praying for the safety of those affected by Odette, before distributing his donated food aid to around 2,000 indigent families in the province.
The senator, meanwhile, asked for understanding, about his inability to give aid to everyone who approaches him, or wait for his motorcade during his sorties.
He is doing everything to help as many people as possible, but he also has his limitations, Pacquiao said.
“Limited lang po ’yung pera ko. Dahil po naramdaman ko na gusto ko talagang tumulong sa mga kababayan ko na naghihirap. Pero limited lang ’yung resources ko, kaya hindi po lahat. Gusto ko mang lahat, sige lang, ’pag nandyan na tayo, maniwala kayo sa akin. Lahat ng nangangailangan ng tulong, malapit po kayo sa akin. Kayo po ang priority, dahil ramdam ko po ang inyong pangangailangan,” the senator said.
Pacquiao, who is running for president under the PROMDI Party, meanwhile, junked the accuracy of series of presidential survey results, that usually show him at the tail end of the polls.
Pacquiao reminded the public about the 2010 vice presidential race, when then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay who was always at the tail end of surveys, beat the then popular rival Mar Roxas.
“Mas marami kaya ’yung Class D at saka E, alalahanin din na nasa 46 o 48M ang Class D at ang E nasa 9M. So napakarami nila kumpara mo du’n sa A, B, C,” Pacquiao said.
“Hindi ako nadi-discourage because ’yung mga tao, ang malakas bumoto naman e, Class D and E eh. ’Yun naman ang bumoboto.”