Amid wild cheer from about a hundred Lakas-CMD stalwarts who joined the party's caucus at a local hotel here, the visibly elated Pacquiao said he is narrowing down his choices to two positions should he decide to join the political fray. “I really have to seriously think which position would suit me in case I decide to run. I want to make a decision that I could properly explain to the people," he said.
Pacquiao, rumored to have been seriously eyeing local posts for the May 14 polls, joined the Lakas-CMD caucus on invitations from local leaders led by his lawyer and confidante Franklin Gacal Jr.
He was reported last year to have decided to run as Mayor of Kiamba town in Sarangani province where his wife Jinkee hails. Last month, it was rumored that he might decide to be the running mate of mayoral bet Ali Atienza in Manila.
Discoro Nunez, local Lakas-CMD chair, said the ring icon is the party's top choice to lead them in their quest to wrest control of City Hall from the opposition Nationalist People's Coalition.
It's now up to him what position he wants to pick. The congressman and mayoral positions are open for him," he said.
Nunez' said his wife Rosalita, a former mayor of this city, is not keen about running again as mayor since their family may not be able to raise the needed money to woo the city's estimated 280,000 registered voters.
He said his wife is willing to be the running mate of Paquiao should the latter choose to run for mayor.
When that happens, he said Atty. Gacal would become the party's bet for congressman.
George Catapang, barangay chair of Dadiangas South here, said Pacquiao is the party's only hope to "defeat the dragons at the city hall."
Incumbent Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr., now on his second term, comes from a clan of top policticians. His late father, Pedro Sr., and brother Antonio had served as mayors of the city.
The congressional seat, which covers this city and the first district of South Cotabato province, is being held by Darlene Antonio-Custodio. Her father Adelbert was a former congressman and mayor while her mother Lualhati was a former congresswoman.
“We really need Mayor Manny Paquiao this coming May," Catapang said.
Gacal said Pacquiao has decided to make some consultations first with "people close to him" before finalizing any decision.
“This is a serious fight so we are giving Manny enough time to think it over and probably check if he has the machinery to do it. But I assure you that the moment he decides, we will have the biggest artillery," he said.
A spokesperson of the Acharon camp said they are not worried about Pacquiao's possible entry into the local political arena.
"This a democratic country so he may can run for any position if he wants to. But we are now talking of government service and not boxing so I think he should also consider his (lack of) experience in governance," said Councilor Lourdes Casabuena.
Casabuena urged Pacquiao to instead support the reelection bids of Acharon and Custodio, who both repeatedly hailed Pacquiao in the past as a local hero.
Acharon had tendered a "hero's welcome" for Pacquiao whenever the boxing hero comes home from a fight.(Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)