ALABEL, Sarangani (MindaNews/28 June) — Seven-time world boxing champion Emmanuel “Pacman” D. Pacquiao is now Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, having taken his oath of office as Sarangani’s lone representative to Congress at 10:15 a.m. Monday at the provincial capitol here.
The 31-year old pugilist vowed to push legislation for sports advancement, better education, stronger agriculture sector and peace and order.
Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio administered the oath of office to Mr. Pacquiao amid an estimated crowd of 2,000 people who stayed under makeshift tents.
Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene A. Dominguez, who is on his third and last term, was also sworn in by Carpio along with reelected Vice Gov. Steve C. Solon, board members, mayors and others who won in the May 10 polls.
Clad in Barong Tagalog, Pacquiao said he is not afraid to discharge his functions as representative of Sarangani, confident that God would help him.
“I have big plans (for the province)…with the help of God, progress would not be impossible,” he said in Cebuano during his inaugural address
Pacquiao was accompanied by his wife Jinkee and their youngest daughter Queen Elizabeth. The three other Pacquiao children—Michael Stephen, Emmanuel, Jr, and Princess, did not witness their father’s oath-taking.
The boxer, who was wearing sunglasses most of the time while waiting to be sworn into office, vowed to brush aside political differences in a bid to spur Sarangani’s economic progress.
“The best is yet to come for Sarangani…To achieve my goals, I will do my best to serve you with the highest degree of loyalty,” he said.
After the inauguration rites, Pacquiao told reporters that politics is different from boxing matches in that the former entails service to the people.
“I’m really excited to serve the people, I believe I can do a lot of things for Sarangani,” said Pacquiao, who is known worldwide as the “Pacman.”
Pacquiao recently took up a crash course on Development Legislation and Governance at the Graduate School of Public and Development Management of the Development Academy of the Philippines in preparation for his role as a member of the Lower House.
His instructors were reportedly impressed by the boxer’s learning abilities.
Sarangani was ruled by the Chiongbians before Pacquiao pulled out an overwhelming victory in the May 10 elections which saw him pitted against another Chiongbian clan member.
The late Rep. James L. Chiongbian, who was largely credited for the creation of Sarangani province, was its first congressman. He was followed by his son Erwin, Sarangani’s representative since 2001.
Priscilla Chiongbian, wife of James, was the province’s first governor.
Pacquiao ended the Chiongbian’s hold over Sarangani by defeating Roy Chiongbian, Erwin’s younger brother.
The boxer first entered the political arena by running in the first congressional district of South Cotabato in the 2007 election but he lost to Rep. Darlene Antonino Custodio, now the mayor-elect of General Santos City. (MindaNews)