Editorial & Opinion

Should Pacquiao run for president?

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Not too long ago, former President Bill Clinton appeared on the American late night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and told Jimmy Kimmel in front of millions of viewers that he thought Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao would make a good public servant.

Clinton said that Pacquiao should consider running for president… soon. “He’s already in the Philippine parliament (House of Representatives) and I hope he goes right on up the ladder,” he said. “I think he’s a great guy and he’s a great role model for the country. He’s very smart and honest, and so he’s thinking about the rest of his life.”

Coming from one of the most beloved presidents of the greatest nation on earth, Clinton’s implied endorsement of Pacquiao for president says a lot about Pacquiao himself, which makes one wonder: What makes “Pacman” tick? Knowing how Philippine politics work, the answer to this question is as complex - and complicated - as the process of electing presidents in a country where loyalty to a candidate for public office far outweighs allegiance to a political party. It is for this reason that turncoatism – “balimbing” – is prevalent during election times.

Just before the second Pacquiao-Bradley fight last April 12, Pacquiao appeared for the eighth time on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. When Kimmel asked Pacquiao about Clinton’s suggestion for him to run for president, Pacquiao said that he’s “not yet thinking about running for higher position.” He said that right now his main focus is his role as a congressman. Perhaps he should have added, “and winning championship fights, too.”

But he’s beginning to age, which is anathema to a boxer. It is apparent that he was losing his feared knockout punch. His recent bout with Timothy Bradley showed that he was also losing his legendary speed. In the last eight fights since his TKO victory over Miguel Cotto in 2009, Pacquiao won only one knockout, five unanimous decisions, one majority decision, and one split decision. And without his “killer punch” and stunning speed, Pacquiao is nearing the time when he’d have to call it quits… while he’s still ahead.


“Dirty tricks”

But what would Pacquiao do after retiring at 35? Since he is already holding an elective office representing the province of Sarangani in Mindanao, he’s already knee-deep in the murky waters of politics. He’d find out sooner or later that politics is no different from boxing; the objective is to knock your opponent out before he knocks you down. And to knock an opponent out, sometimes it requires the use of “dirty tricks,” like head-butting and below-the-belt punches.

In politics there is a lot of “dirty tricks.” Election cheating has been around since the Philippines gained independence from Uncle Sam in 1946. In the 1950’s, the term “flying voter” became the buzzword. A “flying voter” is a person who has the ability to “fly” — like a bird — from one precinct to another to vote for the same candidate; thus, giving that candidate a numerical edge over his opponent. Mathematically, whoever has the most “flying voters” would have a better chance of winning. But the most effective way to win an election is the use of the three G’s – guns, goons, and gold.

Today, the most common way to cheat is dagdag-bawas, which is to subtract votes from your opponent’s total and add it to yours. This is accomplished with the complicity of corrupt Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials. And with the implementation of the controversial Smartmatic PCOS automated election system, election cheating has become virtually untraceable. As someone once said, “In Philippine elections, there are no losers, only the winners and those who were cheated.”



Recently, Vice President Jejomar Binay, the presumed opposition presidential candidate, handpicked Pacquiao to be one of the 12 senatorial candidates under his banner in the 2016 elections. With Pacquiao’s high popularity ratings, he will win hands down. Only a wholesale and massive dagdag-bawas cheating could bring him down.

And once he’s elected to the Senate, Pacquiao would instantly rise up to the status of a “presidentiable,” which would position him for a presidential run in the 2022 presidential election. If elected, Pacquiao at 44 would be the youngest Philippine president since Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

The question is: Is Pacquiao qualified to be president? Constitutionally, he is qualified. But does he have what it takes to lead a country that is immersed in corruption?

One can argue that he is honest and incorruptible. But we have heard that line spoken before for no other than the current president, Benigno S. Aquino III. There is no question that Aquino is “honest and incorruptible.” But that didn’t stop some people around him from robbing the government, including some lawmakers who have been accused of stealing billions from their pork barrel allocations.

What the country really needs is someone who has balls to go after corrupt officials regardless of political affiliation, friends and foes alike. Some say that we need a Filipino Lee Kuan Yew. But some say that is not good enough, which makes one wonder: who then could lead a nation that some say is ungovernable?

Given the situation that the country is in, should Pacquiao run for president in 2022? He might have cojones like the pugilist that he is, but would he be a great leader with a grand plan on how to govern and lead his people to the land of milk and honey? Or is he just after wealth and glory, like the breed of greedy politicians that we have today?


A greedy politician thinks of how to make more money while a great leader thinks of how he should be remembered by his people. Which one would he be?

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