Pacquiao probed for crowding in Batangas visit; camp insists no violation done | Inquirer News
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Pacquiao probed for crowding in Batangas visit; camp insists no violation done

/ 03:10 PM October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Manny Pacquiao’s camp insists that he did not commit any violation during his visit to Batangas over the weekend, despite the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) saying that the incident is already under investigation for starting a mass gathering.

In a briefing on Tuesday, lawyer Nikki de Vega said that no violation was recorded because Pacquiao did not expect crowds to swell in his visit, even if his purpose was really to provide financial assistance for residents in the area.

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“Nako wala po tayong violation dyan, alam niyo po si Senator Manny parang 2002 pa yata talagang namimigay na ng tulong, talagang namimigay po siya ng ayuda, so ang ginawa niya, sa Balayan nagpunta po siya at tumulong,” De Vega, Pacquiao’s legal counsel, said.

“Hanggang ngayon gusto niyang ikutin ang buong Pilipinas lalo na ‘yong recent sa calamities sa norte na biktima, sabi nga niya hindi naman siya titigil tumulong sa tao dahil ayaw ng ibang tao, or binibigyan ng kulay.  So wala pong violation dyan, kung nilapitan siya ng tao,” she added.

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According to De Vega, Pacquiao — a presidential candidate in the 2022 national elections — went with his usual visits in Batangas, but people started swarming him.

“Nagulat din nga si Senator Manny kasi hindi naman, kumbaga, ‘yong pagbibigay niya ng ayuda sa Balayan ‘yon ‘yong kanyang pakay tapos bumisita lang siya kila bishop, kila Senator […] pero nagpuntahan ‘yong mga tao,” she claimed.

“Wala pong na-breach na health protocols do’n, if at all gumawa po ng kabutihan si Senator Manny, siya lang po ang ilan sa, mabibilang niyo sa kamay niyo, bumababa sa mga tao at tumutulong,” she added.

De Vega’s statements came after DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said on Monday that they are probing the mass gathering event in Batangas that was sparked by a presidential candidate’s visit, which goes against existing COVID-19 rules.

Videos from a Facebook page named Manny Pacquiao Public Information titled “Homecoming ng Anak ng Batangas” showed Pacquiao visiting Batangas with his running mate Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza walking on public roads without wearing face masks.

Huge crowds also lined up to welcome Pacquiao in the city of Lipa, during which Pacquiao removed his face mask several times, shook hands with the people, and took selfies with other people without maintaining the minimum distance required.

“Hinihintay pa rin po natin iyong report mula sa Batangas Provincial Police Office at doon sa City Police Station na mayroong kinalaman ‘no, na may jurisdiction dito sa nasabing insidente,” Malaya said.

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“Ang natanggap pa lang po namin kasing report ay raw report lamang at ang hiningi po ni Secretary Eduardo Año sa ating kapulisan is a more detailed report so that we can act accordingly. So, sa ngayon po ay hinihintay pa natin ang report ng Philippine National Police,” he added.

Despite the crowding issue — and allegations of vote-buying as he was seen distributing money to people in Batangas — De Vega said that Pacquiao would not stop as he sees no issue.

“Senator Manny will continue to do good; ‘yan ang sabi niya, ‘Attorney hindi ako titigil gumawa ng kabutihan, nangangailang ‘yong mga tao natin […] tapos titigil ako dahil si DILG binibigyan ng kulay?  Ay hindi, Attorney,’” De Vega said.

“Basta malinis ang konsiyensya mo hindi ka matatakot, basta nakasandal ka sa katotohanan di ka matatakot.  Maka-Diyos po si Senator Manny at naniniwala po sa rule of law, so wala pong problema sa kanyang team dahil tumutulong lang po siya sa tao,” she added.

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TAGS: Batangas, COVID-19, Department of the Interior and Local Government, DILG, Mass Gathering, Nikki de Vega, Philippine news updates, Senate, Senator Manny Pacquiao, vote-buying
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