by Charles Jay
Some see it as an inevitability. Manny Pacquiao, who is currently a member of the legislature in the Philippines and finds himself mired in possible scandal, is switching gears politically.
He has announced that he will not run for re-election to the congressional seat he steamrolled himself into with $7 million of campaign money just two years ago.
But that doesn’t mean he is quitting politics. Not by a long shot.
Pacquiao has made the announcement that next year he is going to be seeking the governorship of Sarangani, his home province, which includes General Santos City.
“Being a legislator isn’t hard work, it’s kind of light,” said Pacquiao, how missed 32 of 59 days of the legislative session last year. “But an executive position is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I feel I’m better suited to that. I feel I can do many things for my province.”
Those are interesting quotes; they would and indeed should fuel speculation, on a couple of fronts.
One of those fronts involves his boxing career. No one really knows how long Pacquiao is going to continue fighting. We know that he says God told him to quit, but remember, God came to him within the jurisdiction of the Philippines, and Pacquiao knows that he is probably more popular than God in the country, so he may have figured he could put Him off for a while
As a result, we have a fight with Timothy Bradley upcoming (God probably encouraged him not to break an existing contract), and there has obviously been talk of a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez (God may want to him to quiet any doubters). Beyond that, however, who knows? Floyd “The Avoid” Mayweather does not appear very anxious to pursue a fight with Pacquiao, and is reportedly entertaining a bout with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Maybe he felt that fighting Pacquiao was going to be rough enough, but with God in his corner he wasn’t going to get the benefit of the doubt on the judges’ scorecards.
At any rate, the absence of incentive like that may hasten Pacquiao’s retirement. If he is looking for a 24-hour-a-day job as governor, it would appear less likely that he would be able to take off months at a time to concentrate on boxing.
And Pacquiao may be looking toward a higher calling. No, we’re not talking about carrying water for the Almighty either.
The plan for Pacquiao is to be governor next year, with an eventual run for president when he is old enough.
That wouldn’t be a big shocker; back in November, Bob Arum, his promoter, had appeared with interviewer Piers Morgan and explained what he knew of Pacquiao’s future political plans.
“The end game is 2022. He got to be 40 years old to run for president and that’s the first election that he’ll be eligible to run for president,” Arum said.
That’s absolutely true, and most of the smart money is betting that Pacquiao will seek a seat in the Senate in 2016. The governor’s post is important, in that it is not part of a legislative body, but a position of executive authority, which is fundamentally similar to that of president.
Edwin Espejo, the journalist who is being sued by Pacquiao, has pointed out that Pacquiao may have shown a little too much hubris upon getting finally getting elected to Congress.
“Pacquiao’s popularity can bring him places as it had already brought him to Congress after a failed first attempt,” he wrote.”But his interlopers and sycophants may just have pushed the envelope too far when they began to speak of the presidency just months into his election as a representative of the lone district of Sarangani.”
Nonetheless, Pacquiao’s master plan obviously raises the stakes, and that is why the current problems he is experiencing, most notably the tax-related scuffle he is having with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is significant. At the same time, it is vexing, as something he could have taken care of with very little fanfare has not become blown up into an attention-grabber.
Under circumstances like this, Pacquiao, who is accusing the BIR of graft and corruption and trying to hold off handing over summoned documents, pertinent to his tax situation, to the BIR, had better be in the winning side, because in many ways he is betting his political future on it.