Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino boxing legend and politician, will run for president of the Philippines in 2022.
Pacquiao accepted his party’s nomination, coming on the heels of his consistent railing against corruption in government and what he believes to be the cosy relationship between China and President Rodrigo Duterte.
The renowned pugilist, who is also a serving senator, was nominated on Sunday by his PDP-Laban party allies during the group’s national assembly. His victory comes days after a rival faction nominated Duterte as its choice for vice president and his longtime aide, Senator Christopher Bong Go, as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2022 polls.
The 42-year-old boxer is considered favourably as a potential obstacle to Duterte’s succession plans as the race for the top post takes shape.
Pacquiao in his acceptance speech said: “I’m a fighter and will always be a fighter, inside and outside of the ring. All my life, I haven’t backed down from any fight. Nothing is impossible if it’s ordained by God.”
In a June survey by PulseAsia, the senator ranked fifth among 15 possible presidential candidates.
Analysts see his presidential bid as capable of splitting the vote in the southern island while opening the door for opposition figures to make some political capital.
Although Senator Go declined his own nomination, the rift between the Pacquiao and Duterte factions has escalated. To further muddy the waters of the current political situation, Pacquiao’s faction has not expressed support for Duterte’s vice presidential bid.
A constitutional provision prohibits Duterte from running for a second six-year term as president which is why his interest in remaining in power is being pursued via the mechanism of a vice-presidential slot.
Pacquiao, who has been a senator since 2016 and who also served as a congressman, was once a loyal ally to Duterte, defending the president’s deadly war on drugs.
However, in recent times, the Filipino boxer has become one of the most recognisable and fiercest critics of the administration, railing against it for alleged corruption and its South China Sea stance amid a split in the governing party in the country.
Pacquiao added that: “We need progress, we need to win against poverty, we need the government to serve our people with integrity, compassion and transparency. We are fed up with the promises of change.”
Deeply admired in the archipelago nation for the boxing glory he brought the Philippines, the 42-year-old is also famous for his generosity after hauling himself out of poverty to become one of the world’s greatest and wealthiest boxers.
He gave an inkling as to what his campaign for the presidency will feel like when he said: “For those asking what are my qualifications, have you ever experienced hunger?
“Have you ever experienced having nothing to eat, to borrow money from your neighbours or to wait for leftovers at a food stall? The Manny Pacquiao that is in front of you was moulded by poverty.”