Hero?s welcome awaits Pacman but?

"There will be a hero's welcome for Manny. But we will not allow politics to color the event," Acharon said.

Last month, the mayor suggested Pacquiao might not get the usual hero's welcome due to his foray into the political arena.

Pacquiao is running for representative of the first congressional district of South Cotabato, a post currently held by reelectionist and opposition stalwart Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, party mate of Acharon.

Acharon and Custodio are party mates under the local political group Achievers with Integrity Movement which has dominated local politics for several years. Former three- term mayor Adelbert Antonino, father of Ms. Custodio, founded the movement.

"I just want to be honest to myself. Pinasok nya yung pulitika. Ibig sabihin nagkaroon ng desisyon among ourselves. Sya mismo ang pumasok jan so ganon ang resulta," (He entered politics which made us decide among ourselves. It was his decision so that’s the result) the mayor told reporters earlier.

Acharon added he does not want to be "plastic" with himself and the boxer so he decided to do away with a hero’s welcome.

But the mayor backtracked after sensing that his pronouncement did not sit well with local residents. He claimed his statement was "taken out of context."

He clarified that city government would still render a welcome celebration for Pacquiao "but the system would be different" to avoid making the event a political circus.

"I will not compromise my good family relationship with the Pacquiaos just because of politics," Acharon eventually said.

Ernie Quisay, chief of staff of the city mayor's office, said that Pacquiao is slated to arrive in this city on April 18.

"The city government will be officially feting Pacman with the hero's welcome. We're still coordinating with his family if he comes back in a commercial or private plane," he told MindaNews by phone.

"But there would be no party for him from the city government, unlike before. His political supporters will be the one who will honor him with either a lunch or dinner party," Quisay added.

Quisay, who is coordinating the city government's welcome celebration for the boxer, said that Acharon and other local officials under the AIM party would not join the motorcade of Mr. Pacquiao from the airport to the city proper if senatorial candidates from the administration camp would be in the convoy.

"The situation has changed from our past welcomes because of his entry into politics," Mr. Quisay said.

The streets virtually turned empty today of vehicles as residents watched their town mate from their television sets, in cafeterias and at the Lagao gymnasium where a giant television screen was set up by the city government.

At the boxing champion’s multi-million peso mansion in Barangay Lagao, his mother Dionisia beamed with pride with her son's astounding victory.

"First of all, I'd like to thank the Lord [for guiding my son into victory]. He [Lord] did not fail me," said Ms. Pacquiao, who was praying as the fight progressed.

"I'm very proud of Manny," the mother said, adding her son "inherited his boxing prowess from her."

Ms. Pacquiao said he had not asked anything from his son prior to the fight. "He has given me almost everything. I'm not asking anything from him this time."

The boxer had given her mother a car and a house from his previous winnings, as well as gifts to his other relatives.

Pacquiao suffered a cut in his eye brow due to an accidental head butt, but Ms. Pacquiao was thankful that nothing worse had happened to her son.

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