Senator Manny Pacquiao has officially declared his candidacy for the 2022 presidential elections Sunday afternoon.
Pacquiao, the only boxer in world history to have won titles in eight different weight divisions, has accepted the presidential nomination from the faction of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by him and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
In his acceptance speech, Pacquiao alluded to his boxing career to say that he will always stand up for Filipinos “I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring. Sa buong buhay ko, wala akong laban na inaatrasan. Dahil sa ngalan ng prinsipyo at karangalan ng bayan ay tumayo ako, nanindigan at nakikipaglaban” (“In my entire life, I have not shied away from any fight. In the name of principle and our country’s honor, I stood up and fought”).
Pacquiao indicated that he will use his rags-to-riches life story as part of his presidential campaign: “Ang Manny Pacquiao na nasa harap ninyo ngayon ay pinanday ng hirap. Dumaan sa lahat ng klaseng sakit at sakripisyo sa buhay maiahon lang ang pamilya mula sa kahirapan” (“The Manny Pacquiao that is standing here in front of you was shaped by poverty. He went through all types of pain and sacrifices to help his family survive poverty”).
Pacquiao also took the opportunity to take a swipe against his intra-party rivals led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi who nominated Senator Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as their standard bearers for the 2022 race. “Sa loob ng ilang buwan, ako ay nanahimik ako po at walang sinabi sa kabila ng kabikabilang pagsubok dito mismo sa loob ng ating partido. Pilit akong binubuwag ng ilan sa ngalan ng pansariling interes at pulitika (For months, I remained silent despite the never-ending challenges here inside the party. Some individuals tried to undermine me for their own political interests),” he said. The Commission on Elections and probably the Supreme Court will have to eventually decide which faction legitimiately represents PDP-Laban.
Pacquiao is only the second person to confirm his presidential bid for 2022, following Senator Panfilo Lacson. Pacquiao’s candidacy is certainly not a welcome news for either Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Senator Bong Go given that they all hail from Mindanao. The decorated boxer used to be a close ally of the administration, with the President naming him as a possible successor back in 2017.
Things turned sour between the two sides this 2021 with Pacquiao calling out the corruption within the government, and with Duterte repeatedly calling him our for his widely-reported absenteeism both as a senator and in his former job as a congressman from Saranggani.