The dizzying Manny Pacquiao
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-04-22
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has made many turns in his young life - some of them significantly positive, some are dangerously damning.

He embarked on a brilliant boxing career and rose from a life of poverty to living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. He didn’t rest on his laurels and strove to be a better boxer. He changed coaches and Freddie Roach became a big positive turning point in Pacquiao’s boxing career.

There are many other turns he made though that can be considered as negative. In his short political career, Pacquiao already rates as one of the top political butterflies. He was a Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) supporter when she still resided as president in Malacanang Palace - but that’s until Noynoy Aquino took the 2010 presidential election by storm. Pacquiao then immediately shifted allegiance to President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy). Never mind if he had supported Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar in 2010 and said some uncomplimentary things about candidate Noynoy Aquino.

Now he had just taken his oath with the PDP-Laban, a main pillar in the UNA (United Nationalist Coalition). The PDP-Laban is the political party of Vice President (VP) Jojo Binay, considered today as the most popular of the top 5 public officials and conceded frontrunner in the 2016 presidential elections. The UNA is seen as the eventual Opposition group against the P-Noy administration, especially for the 2016 presidential elections.

When your Chair Wrecker saw the photo of Manny Pacquiao being sworn in as PDP-Laban member, what immediately crossed my mind was something Sir Thomas More - central character in Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons” - said to his prospective son in law, Will Roper. Sir Thomas More said: “Two years ago you were a passionate Churchman; now you’re a passionate - Lutheran. We must just pray, that when your head’s finished turning your face is to the front again.”

Even in his boxing career, we’ve seen Pacquiao shift allegiances when he perceives that it benefits him to do so. From Murad Mohammad, Pacquiao shifted to Oscar dela Hoya and then to Bob Arum, with whom Pacquiao seems most comfortable. Because of his rash actions, he almost got caught in a multi-million dollar suit and countersuit between dela Hoya and Arum. Pacquiao was lucky that the two promoters arrived at compromise that benefitted everybody. The lawsuit could have enforced a ban on Pacquiao fights if one of the court combatants got an injunction.

In faith, Pacquiao also sends mixed signals. He is seen very closely involved with a protestant pastor. Then, we suddenly hear that the Catholic Church here is making Pacquiao a Bible Ambassador. We wonder if indeed Pacquiao had turned a new leaf and is now poised to be the new Saint Paul, the Saint that turned from Christian persecutor to become the biggest promoter of Christianity.

Quite a number of folks raised an eyebrow when they heard about Pacquiao’s transformation and newfound dedication to promote the Christian faith. That’s only natural for folks who have been exposed to many media reports about Pacquiao’s big time gambling and romantic episodes. Now, these folks are in an even bigger quandary just what is the real Manny Pacquiao - after hearing Pacquiao state that he now talks to God directly. Some even said that this could be the effect already of having absorbed too many punches in the ring.
The question now is just how big an impact will Pacquiao be in the 2013 and 2016 political battles? The PDP-Laban will naturally say that Pacquiao is a big acquisition. However, we must remember that Pacquiao’s political career has been shaky and politics is an arena where many Filipinos do not consider Pacquiao as qualified.

In his first try for a congressional seat in General Santos, Pacquiao was roundly defeated by Darlene Antonino in the 2007 elections. Pacquiao needed to make another turn in order to get a Congress seat. He moved residence to Sarangani where he was not fighting a strong politician like Antonino.

Pacquiao has a track record for “doing the right things” in order to fix some rather damaging negatives. He realized that his lack of a formal education would hamper his political ambitions and so he went for a self-study high school diploma. Now, several quarters believe that Pacquiao is using the “faith” card in order to address questions about his character and his rumored vices.

Already, his recent endorsement of Hennessy became a hot issue. Pacquiao’s Hennessy endorsement was released after he claimed to be a changed man who now talks to God. Hard liquor is often associated as a path to sin and that conflicted with the “piety” that Pacquiao was now trying to project. In an ABS-CBN interview (posted on Balitang America website April 11), Pacquiao tried to defend the Hennessy endorsement, saying: “It’s not about the alak (liquor); it’s about inspiration on how to become successful.” Do you believe that?

We must wonder if Pacquiao’s contract with Hennessy was inked to “inspire folks to be successful” instead of patronizing the liquor Hennessy sells under its brand name. We must also wonder if Pacquiao’s shift to PDP-Laban was not prompted by the P-Noy government’s political will to make him pay the right taxes that he allegedly owes his country. It would be to his interest to strengthen the UNA and for it to be his leverage against the P-Noy government.

That, of course, won’t happen because of two factors. The first factor is the P-Noy government will not be cowed not to collect taxes. The second factor is Vice President Jojo Binay will not be caught protecting a tax evader, should Kim Henares be able to prove a case against Pacquiao.

Pacquiao didn’t prove to be a winning factor in the 2010 presidential elections. Manny Villar only landed third in the presidential tally, after winner Noynoy Aquino and second placer Joseph Estrada. In the case of VP Jojo Binay, with the way he has been consistently topping approval and trust polls, he doesn’t need Pacquiao to win in 2016.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must never unwatched go.”

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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