One of the most decorated boxers in the world, Manny Pacquiao, says he is joining the presidential race in his home country, the Philippines. Pacquiao, who has won world titles in a record eight weight classes, made this announcement on Sept. 19, 2021, when he accepted the nomination of his party.
With more than two decades in the sport, Pacquiao is often described as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He debuted in 1995, and won 62 of his 72 professional bouts, an astonishing number of victories. He is also the only fighter to hold a world title in four separate decades.
Pacquiao is also a senator in the Philippines parliament. The 42-year-old was nominated as a candidate by a faction of the ruling party, the PDP-Laban. The current president, Rodrigo Duterte, is barred from seeking another term but has said he will run for vice-president, a move that critics say will prevent the International Criminal Court (ICC) from prosecuting him. The ICC is investigating Duterte’s anti-drug trafficking campaign which many say resulted in human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.
Pacquiao’s campaign is focused on tackling poverty and corruption. “To government officials who continue to rob government coffers, you will soon find others in jail,” Pacquiao said as he announced his candidacy. “Your time is up.”
Pacquiao split with Duterte when he accused the incumbent of corruption during the pandemic. He used to be president of PDP-Laban, before he was ousted by those loyal to Duterte. Before the split, Pacquiao was a vocal supporter of Duterte’s violent anti-drug campaign.
Some in the Philippines are skeptical of his ability to be president. Aries Arugay, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told The New York Times that Pacquiao had not passed any major legislation, and “His performance at the Senate was underwhelming. However, that has not prevented people and politicians in the past from winning public office.”
The election commission will also have to settle the matter of the different factions of the ruling party putting forward their own candidates. Christopher Lawrence Go, also a senator and longtime aide of Duterte, is considered to be a party favorite for the candidacy, but he has not yet announced his presidential bid.