Manila - Boxing great Manny Pacquiao was proclaimed Thursday
as one of the winners of Philippine Senate seats, bringing him closer to a
possible crack at the presidency.
At the proclamation ceremony, an election official
introduced Pacquiao as the "people's champion" and called out his
name in the same cadence that he is introduced in the boxing ring, drawing
cheers from the audience.
The 37-year-old Filipino slugger garnered more than 16
million votes for 7th place among 12 winning senators in the recent elections.
Earlier this year, he said that he planned to retire from boxing to become a
Pacquiao is considered a hero in the country that grinds to
a halt so people can root for him during his televised fights. He has indicated
in the past he would consider a run for the presidency but he has tried to
ditch the topic, saying he was too young.
Also read: Philippines' Pacquiao says gay couples 'worse than animals'
During his senatorial campaign, Pacquiao bounced back
impressively after a huge drop in support from his remarks in February that
people in same-sex relations are "worse than animals." The
Bible-quoting candidate apologized to people hurt by his comments but made
clear he opposed same-sex marriage.
President Benigno Aquino III revealed in April that the
brutal Abu Sayyaf militant group considered abducting Pacquiao, along with the
president's sister, who is a wealthy and popular actress. Despite the warning,
Pacquiao continued to openly campaign with few visible escorts in the south
region where the militants are based.
Pacquiao came from an impoverished family and had worked odd
jobs before lacing up the gloves at the age of 12. He rose steadily and became
a champion in eight boxing divisions then one of the world's most celebrated
and wealthiest athletes. He has represented southern Sarangani province in the
House of Representatives since May 2010, though he has been criticized for
seldom showing up for legislative duties due to his preoccupation with boxing
Pacquiao ran for the Senate under the ticket of losing
presidential candidate Jejomar Binay, but also was endorsed by southern Davao
city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the winner of the presidential race according to
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