Philippines’s Pacquiao Blazes Campaign Trail

Apr. 19, 2007

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - Boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao appears to have scrapped his usual post-fight break this time in favor of yet another fight.

Barely three days after successfully defending his World Boxing Council International Super Featerweight title in San Antonio, Texas last Sunday, Pacquiao returned home this morning to prepare for his May 14 matchup against incumbent Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio for the first district congressional seat of South Cotabato.

“Let’s forget boxing for now. It’s time to get my votes,” Pacquiao told reporters shortly emerging from a grand hero’s welcome laid out for him by the city government here this morning.

Pacquiao was feted by the local government with a motorcade around the city and a brief recognition program but the activities were considered non-political.

The 28-year-old Pacquiao, who is running under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s party Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), initially paraded around a thousand supporters aboard more than a dozen trucks and cars in a caravan to the vote-rich Polomolok town in South Cotabato.

The caravan, which was organized by Pacquiao’s own political group People’s Champ Movement, later proceeded to nearby Tupi and Tampakan towns.

South Cotabato’s first congressional district, which has a voting population of close to 400,000, covers this city and the vote-rich municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan.

The boxing star was born and raised in this city but traces his roots in Tampakan, where his father Rosalio hails.

When elected, Pacquiao reiterated that he will push for the implementation of more tangible development projects in the area by serving as a bridge between Malacanang and his constituents.

He also vowed to focus on providing more jobs and create more opportunities for the youth to get a good education. Pacquiao is facing incumbent Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who is seeking reelection under the opposition Nationalist People’s Coalition-Achievement with Integrity Movement.

The two congressional candidates, who both claimed to be “good friends,” met this morning upon Pacquiao’s arrival at the city airport and during a recognition program organized by the city government.

Both candidates vowed to pursue a high level of campaigning and focus on “offering what’s best for our constituents.”

“We are just trying to serve our constituents. At the end of the day it would be the people who will decide our fate and I am inclined to respect that,” Pacquiao said during the program. (Rommel G. Rebollido/PNA)

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