Manny Pacquiao for President – why our favorite Filipino boxer should run…away as fast as he can from the 2022 Presidential race.
Surely, there is more than one devil perched on his left shoulder these days. After subsequent stories dropping hints, there is no shortage of rumors and endorsements for a Pacman rally in the upcoming elections.
If those who have closely followed the current administration recall, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte joked that the boxer could end up in Malacañang. That was way back in 2016, but it seems it could’ve been another one of Duterte’s infamously half-meant jokes. Four years later, and that rumor mill hasn’t stopped turning.
But should Manny really consider running this early? Or would he be setting himself up for a staggering defeat? Let’s discuss.
While Pacquiao’s Covid-19 response may have been impressive, what he’s been in the headlines for recently pale in comparison to the splashes he’s made as a legislator. As a two-term Congressman, he was known more for his absenteeism as a member of the House of Representatives. But as incumbent Senator, he arguably landed his most memorable political blows when he helped convict Leila de Lima. And with the notoriously short memory of Filipinos, we will probably remember the latter. That round goes to Pacman.
Pacquiao has also made headlines with his remarks against homosexuals. That should not be very popular with a lot of voters, in a country that continues to ask for more protection for LGBTQ+ minorities. In fact, in 2016, the Philippines elected its first transgender member of Congress. Surely, any run for higher office will trigger this issue to resurface. Any Manny Pacquiao for President campaign will have to answer for this again.
But if there’s any platform point that’s most divisive for Pacquiao, who’s known to be a man of strong faith, it must be the Senator’s firm stand on reinstating the death penalty. As the Philippine criminal justice system continues to stumble, with its most recent fiasco involving the ordered release of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, how can people trust such a law to return? Pacman has to be clear on the morality of his politics. He cannot dilly-dally. If the 2016 election of a strongman in Duterte was any indication, Filipinos clamor for decisiveness. Whether the electorate swings to a softer stance on heinous crime, it is the branding that matters for Pacquiao. He has to own his stand, and run with it.
As a (still) young lawmaker, it would probably serve Pacman better to challenge himself and his contemporaries to iron out the wrinkles in the current system. That should show willingness to learn, and most of all, humility, in an otherwise crowded room of big egos.
Experience is the Best Trainer
Pacquiao’s generous support during the pandemic has been unquestionable, and his firm stand on a few issues is unyielding. However, the Senator has to prove himself as a competent legislator. He has to be more active in pushing for bills that he wants passed, and above all, more visible as a lawman who makes changes for a #BetterPhilippines.
So is it as easy a call that Manny should run for Senator again in 2022? That’s our advice. Another six years in the pits, not too different from the endless hours he’s spent in gyms. Hours that turned into months, and pocket change fight purses that turned into Las Vegas zeroes.
If Manny had it in him to get trained to be the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, why not a leader? Manny Pacquiao for President is but a dream, but so were the bright lights of the MGM Grand. And he lit them up. He made it to the top of that game. He’s been doing the impossible all his life. He’s been beating the odds all his life.
Manny is only 41 years old. What’s the rush?