Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has taken a step closer to 2022 presidency after being proclaimed as one of the 12 winners of the recent senatorial election on Thursday, May 19.
The 37-year-old boxing legend announced earlier this year that he will retire from boxing and will focus on his responsibilities as a politician after his April fight with Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao was able to knock down the American slugger three times during the fight and won via unanimous decision. Many analysts believe that this big boxing win for Pacquiao helped him win the senatorial position.
Pacquiao got 16,050,546 votes in the election and placed 7th overall. He ran under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party of Jejomar Binay, who lost the presidential race to Rodrigo Duterte. However, Duterte has also expressed his support and endorsement for the boxer-politician.
During the proclamation ceremony of the 12 senatorial winners, Pacquiao was introduced by an election official to the crowd as the “people’s champion.” The audience’ cheers became louder when they realized that Pacquiao was being called out in the same manner that he is introduced in his boxing fights.
The other winners of the senatorial election are Senate President Franklin Drilon, Joel Villanueva, Vicente Sotto III, Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ralph Recto and former justice secretary Leila de Lima.
According to Pacquiao, the first bill he will file as a senator will be focused on providing children from poor families free education from elementary to college. He has also expressed his support for re-imposing the death penalty in the country and stated his opposition to a divorce bill.
Some of the Filipinos who did not support Pacquiao during the senatorial race were those who were not impressed with his absences when he was still the Sarangani representative. They also criticized Pacquiao’s comments about the LGBT community when he called them “worse than animals.”
However, Pacquiao apologized for his comments, continued his campaign and impressively defeated Bradley, all of which helped him become a senator and get closer to the highest position in the land. “He’s gonna be a president. He’s gonna run for Senate in the Philippines in 2016 … and then in 2022 or maybe later, he’ll run for president of the Philippines,” Pacquiao’s boxing promoter, Bob Arum, predicted in an interview last year.