MANILA, Philippines – Forget Juan Manuel Marquez, Amir Khan, or even Floyd Mayweather Jr. Manny Pacquiao is about to take on his biggest challenge yet.
Pacquiao on Monday night surprised the whole Philippines when he announced his plans to run a seat in the Philippine senate – this, according to his critics, a ho-hum performance as a congressman.
Speaking before his constituents at Sarangani province’s capital of Alabel to deliver his State of the District address, Pacquiao announced he is moving to “new levels of responsibility.”
His brother, Roel, is reportedly running for the post he will be vacating come the May 2016 polls.
“Yes, I’m going to run for Senate this coming 2016 election. But as to which party, that’s still to be determined,” said the eight-division boxing champion.
Pacquiao has yet to disclose under which party he will run, although he is political allies with Vice President Jejomar Binay under the United Nationalist Alliance.
The fighting congressman, whose name is high in the ratings of recent senatorial surveys, is also being wooed by the ruling Liberal Party as well as by the camp of Senator Grace Poe to be part of their respective senatorial lineups.
The 36-year-old Pacquiao, used his popularity and athletic prominence to be elected into Congress in 2010. Voters again seated him into power in his wife Jinkee’s province of Sarangani in 2013.
But senators are elected nationally, and this could pose as a bigger challenge for Pacquiao.
While his announcement for a Senate bid did not exactly come as a surprise to many, it was still met with mixed reactions.
Pacquiao has met harsh criticisms for his lackluster showing in the House of Representatives, having been listed as one of the legislators with the most number of absences.
Although his popularity did not wane following his loss to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas last May, fans spurned the idea of the fighter also known as “Pacman” seeking higher office.
Reactions on social media, particularly Twitter, have been mostly negative.
“Pacman, you’re my idol. But in the boxing ring. Not in Congress. Sorry,” posted one fan.
“God save our country, Manny Pacquiao’s (in) 9th place in the senate race,” tweeted another.