Dateline seattle: Pacquiao’s downfall
Ever since Manny Pacquiao became a world champion, I have been his ardent supporter and number 1 fan. I never failed to watch his fights. On some occasions, I even paid $60 just to watch his fight on pay-per-view. Come fight night, my heart would throb rapidly and intensely every time he got hit. My wish was always for him not to get hurt and instead knock his opponent sooner rather than later. The last time I really felt bad was when Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Pacquiao was clearly on his way to another victory when out of nowhere a short right hand from Marquez sent him collapsing to the canvas. He was motionless for a few seconds. I watched him on the TV screen in complete shock. I have never seen a knockout quite like that. I really feared for his life. All of a sudden, his life-story – a poor boxer who became a humble and disciplined world champion – flashed in my mind. I thought it was the end for him. My prayer at that moment as he was lying on the canvas was for him to regain consciousness and not suffer any brain concussions. Five years after that devastating knockout, I still don’t wish him harm even if I have now gradually discovered in Pacquiao a different persona that I detest. Believe me it has nothing to do with his change of religion or his rumored propensity to gamble. It all started in 2009 when, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, he allegedly misdeclared his income. He claimed political harassment since he was a member of the opposition party. He said he had earned his money the hard way, got beaten in the ring. Still, the government took his money. “May mga tao na ayaw tayong maging masaya,” he said. To get the sympathy of the public, he played with their emotions. “Thieves are treated better,” Pacquiao said emphatically. He alluded to the honor he has brought to the country and insinuated that he should be treated differently. Why should he be treated with kids’ gloves just because he is a successful prizefighter? It appears to me that his celebrity status has now gotten into his head. I am also disturbed by how he interprets the Bible literally, without understanding its historical context, to support his position on social and political issues. He once compared people who engage in same-sex marriage as “worse than animals.“ He explained, “It’s just common sense. Have you seen any animals having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?” In one of his privilege speeches, Pacquiao openly declared that God supports the death penalty and intends to punish the wrongdoers. He used this same line of reasoning to support President Duterte’s war on drugs and extrajudicial killings (EJK). He was quoted as saying that Duterte was anointed by God to discipline the Filipino people and his authority must be respected. Because of his lack of accomplishments in congress, where he earned the reputation as an absentee congressman, and his lack of knowledge with Philippine laws and policy-making, his performance as a current senator is below par. Aware of his limitations, he allows himself to be used by the majority party like when he made the motion to oust Sen. Leila de Lima as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights. Of course, Pacquiao denied that someone had instructed him to make the motion. Sen. De Lima at that time was leading the investigation of alleged extra-judicial killings under the Duterte administration. Age has already caught up with Pacquiao as a boxer. At 38, he is pretty much done. His recent loss to the younger Australian Jeff Horn proved this, despite the outrage of some of his die-hard fans who cannot seem to accept defeat. As a boxer, he has nothing more to prove. He should retire from boxing. He knows he cannot serve “two masters” – being a boxer and a politician at the same time. As Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s long-time promoter said after his loss to Horn, “I think you cannot spend so much time as a senator and expect to be a world-class fighter.” But he should also retire from politics. He cannot spend his time mouthing Biblical verses out of context and expect to be a good law maker. His downfall is imminent if he refuses to do both.