Kyle Abello ||
Photo credits: ABS-CBN News
After nearly three decades of professional boxing, Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao Sr.— better known as Manny Pacquiao— has decided to retire from the sport. However, even with the matches over, he is set to tussle for another title: the president of the Philippines.
While Pacquiao fits the criteria to run— as stated in Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution— the boxer should observe the three requirements one should look for in a presidential candidate, according to late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago: academic, professional, and moral excellence.
To start, academic excellence. Pacquiao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science after a year of study last December 2019 from the University of Makati (UMak) through the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP). However, UMak is not authorized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to issue the degree to Pacquiao. Although earning a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement to become president, it would be a risk to have a nation led by someone considerably uneducated. After all, the presidency is the highest position in the Philippine government and should not be treated as a training ground.
Second, professional excellence. Having the worst attendance record and no official mission in the senate, Pacquiao, as a senator, did not focus on being a lawmaker. Instead, he concentrated on boxing, participating in professional matches such as the fight with Ugas to reclaim the welterweight title. That being said, lawmaking became Pacquiao’s side job. He dedicated his attention to the sport when, instead, he could have utilized his years as senator to become more knowledgeable and efficient as a politician.
“‘Pag sa araw, wala akong iisipin kundi ang training ko. After training, relax-relax ako, tawag ako sa family and mga bata. After that, pag-uusapan ang work sa senate (During the day, I don’t think of anything but my training. After training, I’ll relax and call my family and the kids. After that, I’ll focus on my job in the senate.),” Pacquiao disclosed in an interview with Toni Gonzaga.
Third, moral excellence. As a known philanthropist, Pacquiao empathized with the poor, lending a hand to those in need and by offering free housing. Another point to note about him is that he has been known as a devout Christian throughout his career. While Pacquiao’s actions may be taken as a sign of good morals, it does not help the struggle of the Philippines to separate the state and religious beliefs. Furthermore, in an interview, Pacquiao made remarks directed at the LGBTQIA+ community, calling them ‘worse than animals’, which may have been influenced by the old ideologies of his religion.
In Pulse Asia’s latest pre-election survey, 12% of 2,400 Filipino voters support the boxer for the presidency. But, being a good boxer does not equate to being a good politician or president. Therefore, Filipinos should be more thorough in choosing who to vote for in the 2022 elections, especially if their top pick is Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao may have united the nation and reignited the Filipinos’ nationalistic flame when his fights were on, but the presidency might not be the best fit for him nor the country. His intentions and platforms may be good, but the Philippines needs someone knowledgeable, compassionate, and well-versed on what is best for the nation.