An open letter to Sen. Manny Pacquiao | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

An open letter to Sen. Manny Pacquiao

/ 05:03 AM December 20, 2021

GENERAL SANTOS  CITY — I am not sure if you will get to read this, Senator Manny, but I am hoping you will.

Since my family settled here in General Santos City, we have been following your career from a distance. The year we came here, 1998, was also the year when you won your first major championship, with no less than the World Boxing Council giving you the world flyweight division title after successfully wresting it from Chatchai Sasakul of Thailand. This was the start of your mercurial rise to boxing fame, as you went on to defeat international titleholders in different boxing divisions.


As your boxing fans continually grew in number, your financial profile also continued to expand, as seen in reports about your acquired vast properties and opulent residences. Your popularity also widened, with the world becoming your stage, where people from all walks of life not only in the Philippines but also in other countries idolized you. You have become popular even in countries where residents know next to nothing about the Philippines and where it is located. I remember once when I participated at an international conference in Lusaka, Zambia, a hotel personnel asked where I was from; when I replied that I am from Mindanao, the Philippines, he immediately asked about you. He even asked for your email address, but I could not provide it to him. Like all your other fans, I only know you from a distance, and celebrate that you have made a name for our country and our city.

Your first attempt to enter local politics in 2007 was not successful, and we expected that to happen. While you were already a professional in the boxing arena, you were still a rookie in the political one. Three years later, you managed to get elected and started your political career that led to your decision to become a candidate for the presidency in next year’s elections.


You have built a political career based on your popularity as a boxing icon, and your widely perceived generosity, especially after a successful bout in the boxing ring. You are known to distribute food packs to your throng of fans lining up at your mansion’s gates in Gensan after every victory in the boxing ring. You are also known for giving money to people and throwing lavish birthday bashes every Dec. 17 where attendees get the chance of winning a brand-new car.

This brings me to this unsolicited advice to you. I was quite bothered when I heard news that you distributed as much as P1,000 each to 2,000 people in Siargao some weeks back.

You argued that you distributed your own money, and that it was not illegal. I agree. But you see, Senator Manny, this gesture declared to all and sundry that you are powerful, having the wherewithal to dispense money to people as if you are a bank’s walking automatic teller machine (ATM). Except that in your case, people do not need to deposit money to get money. You showed off that you have a cornucopia of money while many communities are deprived of it.

This “generous” trait of yours is noteworthy. However, distributing money to get your constituents’ approval is not what governance is. It even distorts it: receiving cash dole-outs from government officials is a flawed way to gauge how one leads based on standards of good governance. One of these is the prohibition of vote-buying and the limitation on a candidate’s expenses during the campaign period. Distributing money is unfair to candidates for political offices since not everyone is awash with cash like you are.

I know that you are committed to help your impoverished “kababayan,” especially those who have the potential of becoming a good boxer like you. This is a truly commendable trait.

But you don’t need to be president of the country to do this—especially if you continue to dispense money like a bank’s ATM.

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