ALABEL, Sarangani (MindaNews/25 November) — Eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao arrived in his adopted province amid a rousing welcome and several bonuses to boot for his fellow Sarangans.
In a message during the opening of the Munato Festival to mark the 18th Founding Anniversary of Sarangani, Pacquiao announced he was able to get a P200-million commitment from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III for the construction of a provincial hospital.
In a press conference later, Pacquiao, who was elected congressman representing the lone district of Sarangani, said the hospital will be built in the capital town of Alabel next year.
The construction of the provincial hospital was a campaign promise of Pacquiao during the last election.
He likewise announced he was able to get a donation of eight ambulances for Sarangani and for the seven towns of the province from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The donation was in exchange for endorsing the PCSO.
Pacquiao said he and Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez will look for funds for the annual administrative, maintenance and other operating expenses of the provincial hospital. Although he did not cite any figure, it could run to at least P50 million every year.
The province has an annual budget of slightly over P300 million with more than P149 million coming from its share of the Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government.
Pacquiao arrived Thursday, more than a week after totally annihilating Mexican Antonio Margarito in Arlington, Texas to annex his eight world boxing title in as many weight divisions.
It erased his previous record of seven world titles, the only boxer to have accomplished the feat in the history of boxing.
Pacquiao also held titles in the flyweight, super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight before annexing the super welterweight crown last November 14.
He earned a guaranteed US$15 million for the bout but his earnings could top the US$25 million-mark after the proceeds of the pay per view buys are all accounted for. (Edwin G. Espejo of General Santos City writes for the Asian Correspondent).