Manny Pacquiao could face charges for two listups

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FILIPINO boxing idol Manny Pacquiao might find himself in trouble for registering twice—first in Manila and then in General Santos City—and for failing to meet the six-month residency required of local candidates.

According to a source in the Commission on Elections, Pacquiao registered as a voter in Manila on Dec. 19, when he was still considering the possibility of becoming the running mate of Ali Atienza, son of Mayor Lito Atienza and a candidate for the mayoralty.

His registration number in Manila is 391135000-2122 at precinct 3361-B of Barangay 830 in Paco.

Pacquiao later registered again as a voter in Purok Acharon, Barangay Labangal, in General Santos, where he is running for congressman in the First District of South Cotabato against incumbent Darlene Antonino Custodio.

“How can he claim residency in General Santos if just a few months earlier he registered as a voter in Manila? His intentions may be noble but the law is the law. Unfortunately, Comelec cannot act on this motu proprio [on its own] and will have to wait for a case to be filed,” the source said.

But Pacquiao’s campaign manager and legal counsel, Franklin Gacal Jr., said he transferred Pacquiao’s residence from Manila to General Santos in December last year through a special power of attorney signed by the boxing champion.

“That has already been transferred. We have already fixed that,” Gacal said in a telephone interview.

When told that Comelec records in Manila showed that Pacquiao’s registration was still active, Gacal said: “We will have to check that first. But if that is the case, hindi na kami ang may kakulangan nun kundi yung Manila election officer [That’s not our fault but the fault of the Manila election officer].”

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos was quick to distance the poll body from the issue.

“It might turn into a case, so we just have to let the court decide on this. The residency requirement is self-explanatory, but please don’t press me for a comment. Let us not be hypothetical because there is no case yet,” Abalos said.

A Comelec commissioner who requested anonymity noted that while the right of free movement was protected by the Constitution, candidates must still be a resident of the area where they are running under the Omnibus Election Code.