“this is what a presidential candidate’s press conference should be like” – MindaNews
CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews/May 01) – Presidential aspirant Emmanuel Pacquiao offered flowers to the Press Freedom Monument here on Saturday afternoon, April 30, to honor the 201 journalists murdered since 1986.
Pacquiao is the first presidential candidate to visit the Freedom of the Press monument in Cagayan de Oro, built to honor fallen journalists in the Philippines, a country ranked 7and the most dangerous place for journalists in the world according to the 2021 Global Impunity Index released by the Committee to Protect Journalists in October last year.
“Freedom of the press is the face of democracy. We will not allow a return to the days of Marcos (the late President Ferdinand Marcos) when the press was controlled by the government,” Pacquiao later told Community Press.
After the floral offering, Pacquiao attended a coasting press conference with reporters where he responded to topics ranging from corruption and bribery, boxing to his housing program.
He said he considered red-tagging journalists and activists “unconstitutional” and promised it would be reconsidered if he won the presidency.
Pacquiao even extended what would have been an hour-long press conference and took more questions from the local press, unlike presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s press conference last Tuesday.
“Let’s extend this. You rarely have a press conference with me. We are enjoying the time we are here together,” Pacquiao said.
During his visit last Tuesday, Marcos and his media coordinators only invited selected journalists, mostly neophytes, drawing criticism from veteran journalists from Cagayan de Oro who were not invited.
Camp Marcos also asked reporters to submit questions they would ask two days before their press conference.
“That’s what a presidential candidate’s press conference should be like. No discrimination and no questions beforehand,” Jigger Jerusalem, correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said of Pacquiao’s press conference.
Pacquiao then went to his rally which was held in the newly inaugurated amphitheater in Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro, becoming the first politician to use the venue after it was closed for several years.
The old amphitheater was the cultural center of CDO and where the late Senator Aquilino Pimentel launched his anti-Marcos campaign during martial law.
Pacquiao called on the public to vote for him on May 9. His crowd of supporters replied, “Daug Ka na! (You will win)”
Pacquiao staff estimated the crowd at 10,000 to 12,000, with people spilling into side streets and watching from nearby buildings.
Cagayan de Oro City Police Director Colonel Aaron Mandia also confirmed the estimate of 10,000 to 12,000 people given the size of the venue like the amphitheater. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)