It's official: Pacquiao running for senator

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – World boxing champ and Sarangani congressman Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao formally declared on Monday, October 5, his widely expected bid for a seat in the Senate in 2016.

“In the coming days, I will be embracing new levels of responsibility. I will be confronting tough challenges,” he told his constituents in Sarangani during his State of the District Address.

“My second term as your congressmen will soon be over, but I will continue to be of service you and to our fellow Filipinos,” he said in his speech.

However, Pacquiao, who is in the Magic 12 of recent senatorial preference surveys, did not say under which party banner he would be running.

He is reportedly under pressure from advisers and political allies to break away from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay. 

But Pacquiao is known to value loyalty and has made a commitment to support Binay.  

The Sarangani representative was present when UNA proclaimed Binay as its presidential candidate on July 1. (WATCH: Boxer and legislator Manny Pacquiao at the UNA party launch)

At that time, Binay’s hold in the presidential survey was slipping away. 

Malacañang has been cold to Pacquiao, with Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henrares initiating a tax evasion case against the billionaire 8-divison world boxing champion. 

Pacquiao’s beef with President Benigno Aquino III started in 2009, when he made a dig at the then candidate for the latter’s lack of hair.

But Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice, vice chairman for political affairs of the Liberal Party, has reportedly invited Pacquiao twice to join the ruling party – a possibility that many in Pacquiao's province dismissed. 

Pacquiao is head of the People’s Champ Movement, a local political party that aligned with Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party during the 2010 elections. 

He is a political rival of the Antoninos who ruled the General Santos City for 26 years. 

Pacquiao ran and lost to then re-electionist Darlene Antonino-Custodio for the 1st District of South Cotabato, which covered the towns of Tupi, Polomolok, and Tampakan in South Cotabato and General Santos City. 

Former South Catabato Representative Luwalhati Antonino (1st District), mother of Darlene, is the chair of Mindanao Development Authority and is the point person of LP presidential bet Roxas' campaign in the locality.

In 2010, Pacquiao transferred residence in Sarangani , where he ran and won for the lone congressional seat of the province. 

He ran unopposed in 2013 for a second term. 

His wife Jinkee Pacquiao is not seeking re-election as Sarangani vice governor, while his brother Rogelio (Roel) Pacquiao will run for the congressional seat that Manny will be vacating. (READ: Local Vote: Zambales, Mandaluyong, Aklan, SaranganiRappler.com