Philippines Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao moved a step closer to achieving his dream of becoming president of the Philippines after winning a seat at the senate on Thursday.
The Filipino super featherweight, who is a stoic christian and a vocal one at that garnered more than 16 million votes, making him the seventh most popular of the 12 new members of the senate, a traditional springboard to the presidency. Earlier this year, he said that he planned to retire from boxing to become a full-time politician.
When he was asked if his next target is the presidency, Pacquiao smiled and said ‘nothing, nothing, nothing’ as he left the induction ceremony. Considered a hero in the Asian country, which grinds to a halt during his televised fights to watch him box.
Pacquiao has indicated in the past he would consider a run for the presidency. But he has often tried to ditch the topic, saying he was too young. The Philippine constitution requires presidential candidates to be at least 40 years old, meaning Pacquiao, at 37, would be eligible to run in the next election in 2022.
He has represented southern Sarangani province in the House of Representatives since May 2010, but he has been criticized for rarely showing up for legislative duties due to his preoccupation with boxing and is regarded as a political lightweight.
Pac Man, as he is popularly called told reporters he was still considering whether to participate in the Olympics in August because he might be criticized again for being absent from the Senate. “I need to ask if the Filipino people will allow me to participate in the Olympics,” he said.
Pacquiao released a statement Thursday in which he spoke of his vision for his six-year term in the Senate. He did not mention his boxing career, but he announced his retirement following an April 9 win over Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.
His statement in full:
Several months ago, we mounted a campaign to heed the call for help from the poor and downtrodden Filipino masses. We went out and joined them in their homes and places of work, we listened to their longings and assured them that a new beginning is coming. Over the past week, we heard those same voices strongly during the recent national electoral process. The message was very clear: Filipinos want their government back in the hands of the ordinary people. They want a new set of leaders who would stand up for their aspirations and share their goals. For that reason alone, I accept the challenge with utmost humility and gratitude. For the millions of common folks who believe in my capacity to put into words what they cannot express; to champion the causes closest to their hearts; and to serve them in a higher and greater platform, you have just won a seat in the Senate. My dearest kababayans, the victory is really yours. I want to reiterate what I have been telling my countrymen from the mountain ranges in Luzon, to the coastal towns of Visayas, to the riverside settlements of Mindanao: I will not let you down. I will not steal from you. I will not fail you. Rest assured I do everything for God and our country.