A lawmaker from Cagayan de Oro has called for a temporary halt to political attacks against Senator Manny Pacquiao, saying the pugilist-turned-politician needs to focus on his upcoming bout against the American who is the unified welterweight world champion.
“I am calling for a ceasefire on attacks against our boxing icon to allow him to focus single-mindedly on his training,” said Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. “He has to prepare well for his fight. There should be nothing to distract and bother him.”
Rodriguez said critics, supporters, and the people, in general, should “unite for his victory, as he is fighting for the Filipino nation and the Filipino flag.”
“Let us all support him because he brings pride and honor to our country. We will have time for divisive politics after the fight,” the lawmaker added.
Pacquiao, 42, is training in Los Angeles, California ahead of his fight in Las Vegas, Nevada on Aug. 21 against Errol Spence Jr., a fighter in his prime, 11 years younger in a punishing sport unkind to older men.
The congressman’s remarks follow a very public spat between President Duterte and Pacquiao, his former ally in the ruling PDP-Laban.
The boxing senator had earned the President’s ire by criticizing his soft response to Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, and suggesting that corruption continues to thrive under the current administration, a point that Mr. Duterte himself has made several times, but which apparently nobody else can without paying a price.
The spat has split the ruling party, which the President heads as chairman. Pacquiao was party president, until a faction loyal to Mr. Duterte ousted him from the top post while he was in Las Vegas training.
The rhetoric, particularly on the President’s side, has grown ugly, with Mr. Duterte calling the senator a piece of excrement.
Given the viciousness of the attacks, it is understandable that the congressman—presumably a great fan of the boxing senator--has asked for a ceasefire on both sides.
What the congressman forgets, however, is that the boxing champ is first and foremost an elected senator of the land, with duties and responsibilities that are not suspended when he goes on training or when he goes into the ring.
On July 3, Senator Pacquiao called a press conference alleging corruption in several government departments, without providing any documents or witnesses to back up his allegations. He said he would file a resolution the following week calling for a Senate inquiry—but then flew to Los Angeles to begin his training.
This left the Senate president and the chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee stumped—how could they open an inquiry when the party seeking the investigation was preoccupied more than 11,000 kilometers away?
Still, congressman Rodriguez is convinced that a win for Pacquiao is a win for the country.
“I sincerely wish and pray for Senator Manny’s clear and convincing victory over Spence and [that he] once again boost Filipino pride all over the world,” he said.
Give Pacquiao a break?
Give us a break, congressman. One man pummeling another into submission may be your idea of boosting Filipino pride. But we’d rather take pride in good governance, and honest, respectful, and intelligent leaders who put our interests above all others—including those of China or boxing.