Boxer-turned-politician Pacquiao to run for Philippines president

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MANILA (Reuters) – Filipino boxer-turned-politician Manny Pacquiao on Sunday said he would run for president in 2022, ending months of speculation over whether the legendary fighter would seek the top post in the world. country.

“The time has come – we are ready for the leadership challenge,” Pacquiao said, as he accepted the nomination of a rival faction within President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruling party.

The eight-division world champion and beloved national hero made the announcement weeks after losing what could be his last professional fight to Cuban Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, who entered politics in 2010 as a congressman before being elected to the Senate, has long been expected to turn to the country’s top office.

The 42-year-old is deeply admired in the archipelago nation for his generosity and for emerging from poverty to become one of the tallest and richest boxers in the world.

His credentials in boxing as well as the fight against poverty and corruption will probably be the key themes of his campaign.

“For those asking what are my qualifications, have you ever felt hungry? Pacquiao asked the national assembly held by the anti-Duterte faction of the PDP-Laban.

“Have you ever had the experience of not eating anything, borrowing money from your neighbors or waiting for leftovers at a food stand? The Manny Pacquiao before you was shaped by poverty. Pacquiao’s star power in a country famous for its celebrity-obsessed politics will put him in a strong position in the presidential race.

But that will not guarantee victory.

A public skirmish between Pacquiao and Duterte over the latter’s handling of the South China Sea dispute with Beijing and official corruption could erode support for the boxer.

Duterte – who is only allowed to serve one term as president under the constitution – vies with Pacquiao for the affection of many Filipinos and said last month he would run for vice president .

A faction of the party loyal to Duterte has also backed the president’s close aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for the top post – but he has yet to accept.

Pacquiao would face a formidable opponent if Duterte’s daughter Sara ran for the presidency, which she is supposed to do.

A recent poll showed that the mayor of Davao City – who belongs to a different party than his father – had the most voter support, well ahead of Pacquiao and other potential candidates. The deadline to register as a candidate for next year’s election is October 8.

Posted in Dawn, September 20, 2021

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