Friday, December 18, 2009

Pacman joins Villar's NP

By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star
Updated December 19, 2009 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has declared his support for Nacionalista Party (NP) president and standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar.

Pacquiao, who is running for congressman of Sarangani, took his oath as a member of NP before Villar in the boxer’s mansion in General Santos City last Thursday.

The oath taking followed the party for Pacquiao’s 31st birthday held at the KCC Events and Convention Center in General Santos City, attended by over 2,000 guests including Villar, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, Ilocos Norte Rep. Bongbong Marcos, who is an NP senatorial candidate; Cebu City Mayor Tommy OsmeƱa, and Finance Secretary Gary Teves.

“Manny Pacquiao, who has thrown his best punches to hoist our country’s pride and honor, is a deeply valued partner in our campaign to help keep our people from being knocked out by extreme hardships,” Villar said.

“Our affinity is anchored on our common backgrounds in poverty where we harnessed the Filipino values of hard work and determination which have seen us through our struggles,” he said.

Pacquiao said he is supporting Villar because they both have humble beginnings.

The boxing champion said that the two of them exemplify sipag at tiyaga (hard work and perseverance), which is the NP standard-bearer's campaign slogan.

Villar said Pacquiao’s entry to the NP would benefit both sides. Pacquiao’s local party is the People’s Champ Movement.

“I’m happy with Manny joining our group. We’re friends. We have the same roots,” said Villar.

“In the past, you didn’t want Manny to have anything to do with other matters except boxing. But in the end boxing is not a lifetime career. Maybe he’s preparing for the future. Three years ago, he ran. Manny is brave, he doesn’t back down,” said Villar.

He said millions of people worldwide idolize Pacquiao and it’s just a matter of turning his achievements in the ring into votes.

“Boxing is still the important thing for him because it’s where people really look up to him and admire him. His achievements will be hard to match even for us who are running for president. His achievements are recognized not only in the Philippines but in the whole world. Even in politics it would be hard to attain such achievement. He has reached the limit,” Villar said.

Pacquiao’s birthday party ended at past midnight and the boxer proceeded to his mansion where he was joined by Villar, Marcos and the other candidates of the province now affiliated with the NP.

“I’m really happy he’s with us now,” said Villar.

Aside from Pacquiao, the other new NP members who took their oath were Sarangani gubernatorial candidate Juan Domino and vice-gubernatorial bet Fred Basino, along with two board members and seven mayors of Sarangani.

Pacquiao’s lawyer Franklin Gacal, congressional candidate for South Cotabato’s first district, also took his oath as an NP member.

Pacquiao introduced Villar as “the upcoming president” of the Philippines, and asked the NP standard-bearer to draw the winner of a brand-new car, which the boxer gave away during the raffle.

Pacquiao said that his respect for the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party remains.

Pacquiao disappoints GMA

President Arroyo was disappointed yesterday after receiving reports that Pacquiao joined the NP but she wished him well in his political career.

“They’ve (the President and Pacquiao) been close in the past. She has provided him all the support that she can; he’s been awarded several awards in recognition of his achievements so I would not be surprised if she would have preferred him to be running in the administration party than in the other one,” said presidential economic spokesperson Gary Olivar.

“Having said that, the decision is his to make. It is his to explain and whatever happens, if he does win, we do wish him the best and the important thing is that, if he wins, he serves with honesty and integrity,” he added.

Olivar said he was not aware whether there were efforts to have Pacquiao join the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“We would hope that the result of the special relationship between the administration and Mr. Pacquiao (is) that he will continue to bring over deep understanding of the policies of this administration into the next one if he wins the electoral contest,” he added.

Olivar, however, evaded questions on whether the Palace considers Pacquiao an ingrate.

“We look forward to see his continuing service to our people in the capacity of public servant if he succeeds in the election to the same kind of determination and patience and commitment to our people that he has displayed in the realm of sports,” Olivar said.

He said it was understandable that Villar would try to win over to his party personalities that could help boost his chances of winning the presidential elections next year.

Pacman’s rival strikes back

Pacquiao’s opponent businessman Roy Chiongbian, congressional candidate of the Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (SARRO), assailed the boxing champion for claiming that the Chiongbian family does not understand the plight of the poor because they were born rich and privileged.

Pacquiao made the remark against the Chiongbians during a recent press conference in his wife Jinkee’s hometown in Kiamba, Sarangani.

Chiongbian, whose family had ruled local politics for decades, said Pacquiao should stop using the poor to boost his candidacy because “it’s not good.”

“We are just fortunate that our family is rich. What we have now are products of our family’s hard work and of our businesses. Becoming rich is a gift from God for those who work hard,” Chiongbian said.

He stressed that the Chiongbians’ wealth does not mean that they never understood the plight of the poor.

“We feel also what they (the poor) feel,” said Chiongbian, whose family’s business empire includes shipping, food processing, real estate, export, and agri-business.

Chiongbian said his family helps the poor in so many ways, and when they help, he stressed, “hindi namin ipinagyayabang at ginagawa namin sa tahimik na paraan (we do not brag about it and we do so quietly).”

He said Pacquiao’s boxing accomplishments are not a guarantee of victory in the elections.

Pacquiao’s suffered his first loss in politics when he ran and lost to South Cotabato First District Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, the youngest daughter of opposition stalwart Adel Antonino, in the 2007 congressional elections.

Chiongbian said Pacquiao’s defeat to Antonino should serve as a lesson for him that boxing and politics are two different rings. With Paolo Romero, Abac Cordero, Rose Tamayo-Tesoro, Ramil Bajo

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