Shrugging off his low rating in opinion polls, senator and former boxing star Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao says his impoverished roots make him the best person to be president, as he warned voters to avoid corruption-tainted candidates.
Mr. Pacquiao questioned why people supported Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., the current frontrunner for the May 9 vote, pointing to the plundering of the country’s wealth during the harsh authoritarian rule of his late father and namesake.
“The root cause of our country’s problem is corruption and then we would vote for a candidate who has been tainted by corruption? What happened to us as a nation? Where is our intelligence?” Mr. Pacquiao said in an interview with Reuters late on Thursday.
Mr. Pacquiao is trailing in fourth place on 6% in the latest opinion poll, well behind Mr. Marcos, who is leading with 56%.
The incumbent senator has made fighting corruption a centerpiece of his campaign, vowing to strengthen efforts to recover billions of dollars missing since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, as part his anti-graft platform.
Mr. Marcos’s family was accused of plundering an estimated $10 billion during his late father’s two-decade rule, spending it on jewelry, real estate and artworks including those of Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
“Why are we in poverty? Because we don’t have money? Wrong. Because of corruption,” Mr. Pacquiao said at his campaign headquarters.
Mr. Marcos’s camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the candidate has previously said he cannot apologize for what his father did.
Mr. Pacquiao has also sparred with incumbent President Rodrigo R. Duterte over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. He said he would not be bullied by China if he won the presidency.
“I dare you, bother the Filipino fishermen and I’m the one you would have to face,” Mr. Pacquiao said in comments addressed at China. “To be bullied is…
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