GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/February 3, 2012) – As a postscript to our last Comment: “Pacquiao the Boxer in Congress” may we offer this unsolicited advice free of charge? Anything for the long lasting good of the giver and the beneficiaries is never late.
Does Manny Pacquiao really want to help the poor? If I remember it right, he said this during his first triumphant homecoming from the United States.
This, purportedly, was his prime motivation in running for Congress; hence, his promise to build a tertiary hospital in Sarangani once
elected congressman. So he did, filing HB 02379 – his first bill now pending in the House Committee — proposing the construction of a P250 million hospital.
But as it has turned out, he has no time to attend to his bills. His two fights a year, in May and November, have kept him out of Congress and away from his constituents. Even if HB 02379 becomes a law, is this enough to help the poor?
A hospital – least of all the tertiary — is just one among the many needs of the poor. This is not the first need; it is the last when
they fail to get the priority needs – the last before the funeral.
First among the priority needs of the poor are livelihood, education, and an environment conducive to healthful and productive living. The absence of these is what makes people poor and susceptible to all kinds of sickness. Give the poor good sources of income and good education for them to rise from poverty; they will enjoy good health and life.
Did Pacquiao have to spend his millions – hundreds perhaps – in two elections for a seat in Congress to fulfill his desire to help the
Not Just Charity
With hundreds of thousands Pacquiao could have gone to charity works in cooperation with charitable institutions. With a hundred million pesos – or just millions spent in two elections – very much could have been done. He could have gone to philanthropy, not just charity.
With the millions of pesos he spent in two elections, he could have set up a Pacquiao Foundation for the Poor with General Santos City and Sarangani as the primary service areas — to help the poor have good livelihood and education. A well managed foundation grows; as it does, its service areas and services can expand.
That was opportunity down the political drain. Should that deter Pacquiao from setting up a foundation for the poor if really he is
sincere in helping liberate them from poverty?
Can Still Be Done
Forget the hundreds of millions that could have established a Pacquiao Foundation for the Poor. Pacquiao still has hundreds of millions for the most laudable project of his life if he sincerely desires to help the poor of his city and adopted province – and the rest of the country later.
He is reputed to have many mansions, a fleet of luxury cars and a P25-million yacht. To sincerely identify with the poor, why not sell
some of those mansions and luxury cars – retaining just what’s necessary to maintain a comfortable and dignified life? Surely, that
yacht will be a “white elephant”. Why not sell that? All the proceeds, he could put into the establishment of the Foundation. He
will forever be remembered as philanthropist.
This year, according to his promoter, Bob Arum, he will have two fights – either May or June and November. In each of these fights, he will get not less than $20 million. Should he fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr., he will be guaranteed $50 million. That will be billions in
Granting that he has to pay tax in the U.S. and other obligations incidental to the fights, he will still take home hundreds of millions
of pesos – perhaps, a billion or close to it. He will have enough to spare for the poor through a Foundation.
His desire to help the poor was most laudable. Coming from the poorest of the poor, he sounded sincere. Unfortunately, however, he fell into a group of politicians whose notion of helping the poor is deceptively ignoble. He was too naive to see through the scheme of seasoned professional politicians.
What is the scheme? Besides a few peso-dole outs to political mendicants, they promise to help the poor in exchange for votes. They
buy votes through political middlemen. They spend tens, hundreds of thousands or millions depending on the position vied for – their own money or that of their patrons. Once elected, they forget the poor; they first have to recover their money or serve the vested interests of their political patrons.
The poor cannot rise from poverty through promises that like “tomorrow” — a popular saying says it never comes — are forever
expected as “coming”. The poor are kept poor or even poorer – ripe as ever for promises in the ever coming elections.
Professional politicians form parties or factions. The candidates among them must have money; they enhance their political funds through donors or patrons. Should candidates lose, only they and their patrons lose money; the party workers are adequately paid for their lost efforts.
Pacquiao is different. In the two congressional elections he ventured in, he spent his own money. In the 2010 election, he must have
shouldered the bulk of his People’s Champion Party fund. The party’s local candidates must have their own funds – supplemented with party funds when necessary. However, they all rode on Pacquiao’s immense popularity to beat the Chiongbians and their party.
For all the millions that Pacquiao spent to make his People’s Champion Party win, what have the Party’s municipal elective officials – as well as the provincial, if any — done to improve the lot of the poor? How we wish a reliable survey could echo what the poor of Sarangani can say.
Can Pacquiao in all sincerity and honesty see the difference for the poor had he spent the millions he had splurged in politics directly on poverty eradicating projects?
Still on the presumption that Pacquiao sincerely desires to help the poor, he should have realized midway into one term in Congress that Philippine politics primarily helps the influential rich – Filipino and foreign – amass more riches while trumpeting to help the poor. With no money for lobby, the poor only have morsels to whet their hunger.
Where is his tertiary hospital for Sarangani? Is he getting the majority support – the least of the 100 percent assured by Speaker
Feliciano Belmonte Jr. – for HB 02379? It would have been different had the bill been for the revitalization of the local health centers
in the country. With every congressional district benefiting, the majority of congressmen if not all will support Pacquiao even in his
Paquiao should be realizing by now: Where’s the logic of investing my millions for a seat in Congress to help the poor in Sarangani? My HB 02379 is still sleeping in the House Committee. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III could not assure me that there is P250 million for the hospital. Had I spent my millions directly for the poor, a good number of them would be seeing their way out of poverty now.
That realization, we repeat, is on the presumption that he was – and still is – sincere in his desire to help the poor. There lies the
Gauging from his accomplishment in Congress, Rep. Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, at the end of the 15th Congress, will be a so-so congressman or much less. No amount of media hype – a big part of his investment – can hide his mediocre performance or even worse. Neither can it convince right and honest thinking Filipinos he would excel as senator, vice president or president.
His fame and fortune depend solely on boxing. Time will not favor him forever. Once out of boxing, he will find the big difference. Does he sincerely desire to help the poor? If he does, he must commit the millions that he can spare for the poor.
It is by philanthropy that he can help the poor – by which he will be remembered for his humanitarianism long after he is gone. Why does he not allot a hundred million pesos from his next fights for philanthropy? He will be most welcome in the ranks of noble Filipinos who with their expertise will help set up and manage his foundation.
The millions he will invest will be tax-free. Professional ball players in the U.S., instead of paying in taxes hefty sums of their
multimillion dollar incomes, put up foundations for children, women, etc. in the U.S. if they’re Americans or in their native countries if they are foreigners. Foundations can grow through donors.
Will Pacquiao welcome the idea? It depends whether his desire to help the poor was – and still is – sincere. Whether he wants to make a big difference for the poor! (“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)