As the country nears the next general elections, many are in pursuit of the available office positions. With the number of candidates from which people can choose, the future of the country depends upon these choices that will affect the next six years.
One out of the ten aspirants for the country’s presidency and the first among them to file his candidacy is Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Sr., who is famously known as the ‘People’s Champ’.
On October 1, 2021, Pacquiao made his presidential bid official as he was the first to file a certificate of candidacy. Alongside him was his running mate for Vice President, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza.
The public had mixed reactions to his declaration of his presidential bid, with people questioning his credentials to run for the highest office. While he continues to push forward with his candidacy, he still lags behind his co-aspirants in local and national polls.
As he pursues his campaign, he continues to pledge to stand mainly against poverty and corruption, and that corrupt government officials would end up incarcerated.
Pacquiao’s substandard political career
Globally known as a boxer since 1995, Pacquiao stepped into the world of politics when he was first elected as a Congressman in 2010, in which he represented the province of Sarangani in the 15th Congress. He served his first term until 2013, and was re-elected in the same position in the 16th Congress, serving from 2013-2016.
In the 2016 National elections, he ranked seventh in the Senatorial race, garnering 16 million votes from the Filipino people.
However, despite his political wins and being elected into two big offices in the country’s legislative body, his political career was regarded negatively as a top absentee in the Congress.
As the representative of Sarangani in the 16th Congress, he was the top absentee in 2016, having only attended once on officially-recorded plenaries, and was absent 22 times. In 2019, he was also named top absentee in the Senate, recording 12 absences from July 2018 to June 2019 as the 17th Congress adjourned.
In his time as a lawmaker, Pacquiao was able to author and co-author 25 laws, with 12 enacted, from 2010 until the present. As a Congressman, he principally authored RA 10828, an act establishing a regular district office of the LTO in Sarangani and allocating funds for the said office and co-authored 6 out of 7 passed laws as a Congressman.
Some of the laws he co-authored were RA 10679 (Youth Entrepreneurship Act) and RA 10699 (Sports Benefits and Incentives Act). As a Senator, he principally authored three laws, namely RA 11163 (National Bible Day Act), RA 11227 (Handbook for OFWs Act), and RA 11224 (Establishment of the Sarangani Sports Center).
He also co-authored several laws such as RA 11223 (Universal Health Care Act), RA 10929 (Free Internet Access in Public Places Act), and RA 11215 (National Integrated Cancer Control Act).
Conservative stands on social issues
Despite the criticisms on his stand on key social issues, Pacquiao remains steadfast in his vision to pursue the country’s fight in overcoming social issues. According to him, leading survey results do not automatically mean victory. Moreover, he believes that his hardships will equip him to help his countrymen fight the battle against poverty and corruption.
Pacquiao is not known to stand on the same ground with many people on certain issues. For instance, his personal and religious reservations towards the LGBTQIA+ community gained him the most backlash for referring to homosexuals as “mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao” because of same-sex relationships after he was asked about his stand on same-sex marriage.
These same reservations were the foundations of his stance on not legalizing divorce because he believes in the sacredness of marriage. Also, he was against the legalization of abortion, not even for victims of sexual abuse, because of his belief in the sanctity of life as it is a gift from God.
On the contrary, Pacquiao had a common ground with many people and even co-aspirants in terms of other long-existent social issues on corruption, the West Philippine Sea, and fake news.
Firstly, he believes that riddance and punishment of corrupt government officials must be a top priority. For him, corruption is the root cause of economic recession and mass poverty. He will be inclined to an iron-fist leadership, but will not tolerate any form of profanity within the government and his administration.
He also stated that he will not allow China to bully him under his administration, if he is elected as President. This pertains to the dispute on the West Philippine Sea which dates back to January 22, 2013 when the Philippines started an arbitration against China regarding their territorial and maritime conflict.
Pacquiao believes that the issue must be resolved through having a proper dialogue, because he claims that the country must also maintain peaceful relations with China.
In 2021, Pacquiao’s reputation was tarnished by fake, hateful news. He formally filed a complaint against Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church’s founder. Reportedly, Quiboloy spread fake news which claimed that Pacquiao spent P3.5 billion for a project in Sarangani. During the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews, Pacquiao stated that the public has the “freedom to use social media but shall be limited to avoid abusive behaviors.”
Stadiums to podiums
As a boxer, Pacquiao’s career was remarkably acclaimed. He was mostly successful, tallying a total record of 62 wins, 8 losses, and 2 draws. On January 22, 1995, he started his boxing career with a win at the age of 16.
He then rose to become a world champion on December 4, 1998 after dethroning Thailand’s Chatchai Sasakul, the match from which he first gained a world-title. Ten years later, he had his breakthrough victory against Olympic gold medalist and American boxing star Oscar De La Hoya.
Despite tallying a number of losses, Pacquiao still managed to secure win after win, which brought him to his 62-8-2 record. In total, he triumphed with 12 major world titles in 8 different weight divisions.
From boxing rings on different stadiums and arenas, Pacquiao found his way to political podiums when he first became a Congressman in 2010.
It was not the first time he tried to enter politics. In 2007, he first ran for Congress but lost. It was on his next tries in 2010 and 2013 that he won via landslide victories as the representative of the 1st District of Sarangani. In 2016, he won a seat in the Senate, being his latest political victory.
However, like many other legends, Pacquiao eventually hung up his gloves as he went on with his presidential bid.
On September 29, 2021, he posted on his Facebook and Instagram accounts his sentimental goodbye to his 26 victorious years in boxing. In the 14-minute video, he highlighted his entire journey and thanksgiving for everything he had accomplished.
As he ended his speech in the video, he stated that it is difficult for him to accept that his time as a boxer is over, and announced his retirement afterwards.
“I just heard the final bell. Tapos na ang boxing. Maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. God is good all the time. Thank you.”
On to a new chapter
Despite a very emotional goodbye to his boxing career, Pacquiao claimed to be “very excited” with a new chapter of his career. This time, he focuses on the biggest fight of his political career ─ the bid for the presidency.
Pacquiao firmly believes that he is capable enough not only to lead the country, but to specifically put an end to corruption and poverty which is his main campaign.
As of date, he is still yet to publish concrete policies, proposals, and platforms.
Currently, Pacquiao continues to lag behind his competitors in multiple local and national surveys. Optimistic, he believes that he still has chances to win the elections: “sanay naman ako sa dehado na naipapanalo ko.”
Also, he stated that in the past two decades of elections in the country, there were no candidates who led the surveys and won. Unfazed by his standings, he believes that his ranking in surveys does not reflect the support he has been receiving from the people.
Recently, in AdDU’s Blue Vote survey results, Pacquiao placed eight with only 0.6% votes from AdDU’s voting population.
The article was previously published in the Election Issue 2022 of Atenews. Read it here: tinyurl.com/AtenewsElex2022