PACQUIAO WATCH: Wisdom of decision

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 March) – Rep. Manny Pacquiao is now beginning to feel the challenges in his young political career and his latest brush with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will just be one of the many legal as well as political issues that will confront him as a politician.

Of course, somebody once said crisis is an opportunity in disguise.

Against the BIR, however, will Pacquiao rise up to challenge and beat the odds like he is wont to do in his phenomenal boxing career?

How many great and not-so-great Filipino athletes like him were able to sustain successes when they joined politics?

We can name two basketball superstars who went on to become senators – Robert Jaworski and Freddie Webb before him. Both were one-hit wonders, however. They failed miserably when they sought a second term. There is not much to be said about athletes who became member of the Philippine House of Representatives.

Pacquiao himself has said he will not be seeking re-election but will instead run for governor in Sarangani where he was elected as congressman of the lone district of the province in 2010.

I find it therefore disturbing that he is taking the high profile route in hitting back at the BIR which filed a criminal case against him – unless he is bent on protecting his riches at all costs from government revenue collectors.

His choice of lawyers who are defending him in this case may also not be a correct political statement.

Everybody knows that former Justice Secretary Artemio Tuquero is one of the lawyers of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who herself is facing a litany of criminal charges from the Aquino government. Tuquero was once nominated by the Iglesia ni Kristo to replace impeached Merceditas Gutierrez. Another lawyer of his, Abraham Espejo, is the dean of the College of Law of New Era University.

These high-profile lawyers do not come cheap. Not that Pacquiao cannot afford them. But their mere presence as Pacquiao lawyers will have some political ramifications.

In case many forget, the lead counsel of embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom the government sees a loyal lackey of Arroyo, is a prominent member of the Iglesia ni Kristo.

Whoever advised Pacquiao to hire these lawyers are themselves making a political statement – that they and their client are digging in for a political showdown with Malacañang.

Given the present politically charged atmosphere and considering the future timeline of Pacquiao, his open defiance will only undoubtedly invite more backlash from a government that has been showing propensity to go after everyone remotely associated with the past administration.

Pacquiao himself politically benefited from his close association with the Arroyo government, in the same manner that he became the sanitizer of the former president.

One cannot even be faulted if he sees the Arroyo hand in Pacquiao’s choices of lawyers.

Pacquiao, after all, is one who values friendship come hell and high water.

Maybe there is wisdom in his decision. But who wins in the long run? (Edwin G. Espejo writes for