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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

[EDITORIAL] Following his latest defeat to Ugas, Manny Pacquiao must reconsider his Presidential ambition

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If there is one thing that the recent fight of Manny Pacquiao shows that is although the People’s Champ remains formidable, he is not invincible.

In fact, no one is invincible both in sports and in politics.

His recent loss to the younger Yudenis Ugas in the boxing ring opens the prospect of his retirement in sports.

Perhaps, the same defeat must also behoove him to reconsider and tame his political ambition to run as President in next year’s national election.

Watching his recent fight inside the arena, we cannot help but be amazed at the larger-than-life persona of Manny Pacquiao as the most cherished Filipino boxer of all time, and at the same time gloat over the caricature-like image of Manny Pacquiao chock-ful of desire to bite off more political power than he can chew.

While Manny Pacquiao’s relentless quest to emerge victorious in every fight in the boxing arena is his heart of the champion beating, his unquenchable thirst to seize greater power and glory, both in sport and politics, is greed.

Let us relive the legend of Manny Pacquiao both as a Champion Athlete and a boxer-turned-politician. His rise and fall. And the uncertain future of his political career.

Pacquiao as the Boxer

A rags-to-riches tale, Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao has emerged as one of the world’s legendary boxing icons, and an inspiration to many Filipinos.

Hailed from a from a far-flung and impoverished area in the Southern region of the Philippines, Pacquiao is known for his loaded punches, swift footworks and thirst to dominate his opponents through total knockouts (TKOs) victories. He has etched his name in history with his remarkable victories against top boxers in the world like Ricky Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya.

Pacquiao, however, is not immortal. He is subject to the natural process of ageing.

After his loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. back in 2012, the People’s Champ has experienced another 4 defeats with victories in between.

While it can be argued that his victories outnumber his losses, it should be mentioned that he suffered more than half of his losses just in the past 10 years.

In his latest bout, Pacquiao, at 42, had his latest defeat to a younger Cuban boxer, Yudenis Ugas. The 36-year-old boxer was unanimously favored by the judges with a score of 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112.

Even before this defeat, many boxing analysts have been saying that Pacquiao is already past his prime. Hence, his possible retirement in the world of boxing is once again in the air.

Senator Manny Pacquiao with President Duterte. Photo from Philippine News Agency

Pacquiao as the Politician

Aside from his retirement, Manny Pacquiao has another matter to ponder on – his political career in the Philippines.

Pacquiao first tried his luck in politics in 2007, but unfortunately lost. The boxer persisted and was able to finally secure a legislative seat in the lower house in 2009 and 2013 elections with a landslide victory.

With his story of success which suits the political taste of Filipino voters, the legendary boxing icon made it to the Senate of the Philippine Congress in 2016.

The senator, however, has always been subject of humiliation and mockery due to his absenteeism which results to poor legislative performance. He is also attacked for his questionable policy positions resulting from his excessive entanglement with his religious conviction as a formerwomanizer-and-heavy-drinker-turned-religious-zealot.

The 2019 data released by the Senate reveals that while Sen. Leila De Lima and Sen. Francis Pangilinan had the highest number of absences from 2018-2019, Senator Pacquiao had the worst attendance record among the Philippine senators with 12 absences. Sen. De Lima failed to attend all of the senate sessions because of her detention, while Sen. Pangilinan had to miss several sessions mostly because of his official missions. Sen. Pacquiao, on the other hand, was absent mostly because of his boxing fights abroad.

His commitment to his boxing fights is not the only variable that has been holding Pacquiao from effectively performing his duties as a senator. Pacquaio has always been known for his conservatism predicated on his religious beliefs. He always sources his stance on policy issues from his religious principles. For instance, when asked about the proposed same sex marriage in the country, Pacquiao disapproved of its passage, citing an objection from the Bible. Worse, he controversially added that those who are in a same-sex relationship are worse than animals.

While our Constitution guarantees Senator Pacquiao’s freedom to exercise his religion, voting against a legislation solely because of his subjective religious point of view betrays the objectivity needed to truly perform his roles and mandates as a Senator of the Republic.

The alarming part of Manny Pacquiao’s actions– his absenteeism, poor legislative performance and bigotry– if juxtaposed with his Presidential ambition is that these may just be a prelude of worse things to come once he gets elected as President in next year’s election.

Hence, while we celebrate his achievement as the greatest Filipino boxer of all time, our conscience dictates that we say no to President Manny Pacquiao in 2022.

Filipinos deserve better.

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