Manny Pacquiao announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Philippines

Manny Pacquiao candidacy for the presidency of the Philippines

Boxing star Manny Pacquiao announced this Sunday (09/19/2021) that he will run for president of the Philippines in the 2022 elections to compete with the candidate of the party of current President Rodrigo Duterte, who cannot stand for reelection. Pacquiao, a former ally of Duterte, has harshly criticized the government in recent months, accusing corruption and a soft hand in a dispute with China.

Pacquiao, who was elected deputy in 2010 and has been a senator since 2016, was proclaimed in a congress of his party, the PDP-Laban (Philippine Democratic Party-Power of the People). “Yes, I accept,” said the 42-year-old athlete in a speech before a giant screen where videos of some of his fights could be seen. The fighter holds a record of twelve world titles in eight different categories.

Pacquiao in June criticized Duterte for failing to confront Beijing in the diplomatic conflict over the disputed waters of the South China Sea and later denounced cases of corruption in the government’s pandemic aid program. This caused a break in PDP Laban, one of whose factions decided to continue supporting Duterte and another sided behind Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao wanna be president of the Philippines

“I’m a fighter”

The other faction of the party had already nominated Senator Christopher “Bong” Go as their candidate for the presidency and Duterte as vice president, a move that critics consider a trick to keep the current head of state, who is constitutionally barred from the ruling, in office. Go later declined the nomination and many think Duterte will run for vice president on the run with his daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“I am a fighter, and I will always be inside and outside the ring,” said Pacquiao, who despite his gigantic popularity in the Philippines does not figure well in public opinion polls. His recent crusade against corruption, after denouncing the disappearance of 200 million dollars that should go to help the poorest in times of pandemic, was described as a political move by Duterte, who challenged Pacquiao to show proof of his accusations.

The president, an authoritarian leader who has built a reputation for relentlessness with his bloody war on drugs, has called Pacquiao an opportunist for criticizing him now after supporting him for five years. Pacquiao has sparked controversy in the past for saying he opposes gay marriage as a sin against God and for supporting the death penalty, which is not recognized in the Philippines.