PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Praise the Lord, boxing icon Manny Pacquiao won’t be spending his time inside the halls of Congress and giving his two-cents on national issues like E-VAT and Cha-cha.
Instead, his millions of fans will see more of the Pacman doing his thing atop the squared ring of the MGM Grand in glitzy Las Vegas or the Big Dome in polluted Cubao.
This came about after the man acknowledged as the greatest boxer the country has produced found himself staring at defeat in his first venture in this dirty game called politics.
Partial, unofficial results gathered by ABS-CBN showed Pacquiao trailing incumbent Darlene Antonino-Custodio by a large margin in their battle for the congressional seat in the First District of South Cotabato.
A few days before the mid-term elections, pundits predicted a fight to the finish between a petite, lovely lady seeking a third term as congressman and a sports hero running against the wishes of a nation that loves him like crazy.
Too bad, the fight is turning out to be a mismatch, likened to one pitting Mike Tyson in the prime of his career against someone plucked out from a long retirement.
As of last night, Ms. Custodio, a vocal member of the opposition and a scion of a political clan in Mindanao, has accumulated 86,254 votes, well ahead of the 27-year-old Pacquiao who only has 50,058 votes.
His countless fans, as well as some members of the family especially his mother, persuaded Pacquiao not to throw his hat into the political arena, fearing doing so would mean loss of focus and attention in a sport that has been kind to him.
But join he did, thus breaking the heart of a nation that practically stands still the moment he climbs the ring to fight famous Mexican opponents like Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Matigas kasi ang ulo. Dapat sa boxing na lang siya. Mahal namin siya at ayaw naming pumasok talaga sa maruming pulitika,” said Daniel Aguila, a cigarette vendor from an old Blumentritt neighborhood and a certified Manny fateful.
Other prominent sportsmen who ran in the last elections were not doing well, too.
Ali Atienza, an Asian taekwondo champion who hopes to succeed his father as Manila mayor is trailing Senator Alfredo Lim and chess president Prospero Pichay is way behind in the race for the 12 senatorial slots like Southeast Asian Games fencing gold medalist and movie actor Richard Gomez.
One day into the canvassing of votes, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Peping Cojuangco, Red Bull pro team coach Yeng Guiao, boxing president Manny Lopez and weightlifting head Monico Puentevella are presently locked in close battles against their respective rivals.
Cojuangco is running for governor in Tarlac, Guiao for vice governor in Pampanga, Lopez for congressman in Manila’s First District and Puentevella for congressman in the lone district of Bacolod.