Pacquiao for president in 2022? ‘Not on my mind yet’

Camille Elemia
'Hindi ko naman sinabi na sarado na. Ang pagiging president, Panginoon ang naglalagay diyan,' says the neophyte senator

PEOPLE'S CHAMP. Senator Manny Pacquiao says the presidency is not yet on his mind. File photo by Simeon Celi Jr/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Manny Pacquiao in 2022?

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte described world boxing champion turned senator Pacquiao as presidential material. But for the neophyte senator, there are no definite plans yet.

“Wala pa sa isip natin ‘yan. Focus tayo sa trabaho natin – boxing at dito muna sa Senado. Busy tayo,” Pacquiao told reporters on Wednesday, November 16.

(The presidency isn’t on my mind yet. I’m focusing on my current work – boxing and my duties at the Senate. I’m busy.)

Pacquiao, a staunch Duterte ally, said he is not closing his doors just yet but added that the presidency is something that only God can dictate.

Pacquiao, who has limited legislative experience and education, was propelled to the Senate after ranking 7th highest in the 2016 senatorial race. Analysts attributed his victory to his popularity.

Before becoming senator, Pacquiao was congressman of Sarangani province.

“Hindi ko naman sinabi na sarado na. Ang pagiging president, Panginoon ang naglalagay diyan. ‘Wag natin masyadong mataasin para pangarapin. Gampanan natin trabaho natin, para marami tayo matutulungan na Pilipino,” he said.

(I’m not ruling out the possibility. Becoming president is God’s will. We shouldn’t aspire for it so much. Let’s just do our job so we can help many Filipinos.)

For the senator, 2022 is still far away. He emphasized that he would bring his dedication in the ring to the Senate session hall, where he has so far not missed any session yet. This is in stark contrast to his performance in the House of Representatives, where he was the top absentee lawmaker.

Asked how he feels about being considered a possible presidential contender, Pacquiao said: “Sa akin trabaho lang talaga, walang kung ano sa abot ng makakaya, parang kung paano ako nag-dedicate ng sarili ko noong nag-start ako ng boxing at na-accomplish ko itong sa boxing, career ko, the way I discipline myself, work hard. Dedicated ako dito sa trabaho ko. Enjoy ako parati, excited, mag-aral nang mabuti sa problema sa bansa.”

(For me, it’s really all just work, I try my best, like how I dedicated myself to learning the sport of boxing and how I strived to accomplish feats in my boxing career, the way I discipline myself, work hard. I’m dedicated to my work. I always enjoy it, I’m excited, I carefully study the problems of the country.)

Pacquiao also said that if there would be no changes in the Philippines in the next 6 years, he might consider leaving politics.

“Napakalayo pa ‘yan para isipin at pag-usapan, problema muna natin dito. Kasi ‘pag ‘di natin naresolba, nabago hanggang 6 years, parang ayaw ko na lang sa pulitika. ‘Yan ang ano ko, commitment ko, kailangan may maitulong tayo, may mabago tayo,” Pacquiao said, adding that he is thankful to share the same agenda with the President.

(That’s still too far to think about and talk about, because we have problems to address right now. If we don’t resolve these problems, if we fail to make changes in the next 6 years, I think I would no longer want to be in politics. My commitment is that I should be able to help the people, make changes.)

Pacquiao has so far echoed Duterte’s views on controversial issues – from the death penalty and hero’s burial for former president Ferdinand Marcos, to martial law – and is one of Duterte’s defenders in the Senate. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com