Pacquiao throws hat into senatorial race

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 October) — Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao is officially joining the 2016 senatorial race.

Pacquiao formally confirmed on Monday night his highly-anticipated bid for the Senate at a generally assembly of his political party People’s Champ Movement (PCM) in Alabel, Sarangani Province.

He initially announced his intention to seek a “higher position” in next year’s polls during his state-of-the-district address held at the Sarangani provincial gymnasium in the capitol compound in Alabel.

“Sila ang dapat unang makarinig dahil congressman ako dito (They should be the first to hear it since I’m a congressman here),” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

Pacquiao said it took him some time to make a final decision as he had to first consult his family and constituents.

Since he will be running for a higher position, he had to make sure that he is ready for the challenges ahead as it would require bigger dedication and commitment from him.

“So masaya. Masaya naman sila na mas palalawakin pa yung gusto kong matulungan at matutulungan ko pa. Happy naman ako (They’re happy that I would eventually help and reach out to more people. I’m also happy),” he said.

But Pacquiao, who is faring well in the recent senatorial preference surveys, did not say whether he will be joining the slate of any major political party for his Senate run.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had declared his run for president under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), had offered a slot for Pacquiao in its senatorial lineup.

The PCM, which had forged an alliance with UNA, dominated the 2013 elections here and nearby Sarangani Province.

Pacquiao was present when the Vice President was officially proclaimed by UNA last July as its presidential candidate.

The boxing champion had made several hints that he is considering making a run for a Senate seat but did not make a formal declaration until Monday night.

City Councilor Rogelio “Ruel” Pacquiao, the congressman’s younger brother, announced last week that the latter he will no longer be seeking a third term at the House of Representatives in the May 2016 elections.

He said their party, the PCM, has picked him instead as its official candidate for Sarangani’s lone congressional district post.

During the party assembly, the PCM formally endorsed the re-election bid of incumbent Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon.

It also endorsed senior board member Elmer de Peralta as candidate for vice governor, replacing incumbent Vice Governor Geraldine “Jinkee” Pacquiao who has decided to retire from politics so she could concentrate on taking care of her family.

Pacquiao, the PCM’s chair, swore in the party’s new members and led the announcement of its slate in the province’s seven municipalities. (MindaNews)