Lessons Manny Pacquiao learned in politics: ‘Always forgive your enemies’

He wants to be a senator ‘to help more people.’  Photos by Ellen Wallop/Asia Society

He wants to be a senator ‘to help more people.’ Photos by Ellen Wallop/Asia Society

By Cristina DC Pastor

“In politics, there are a lot of politicians who masquerade as righteous!”

This is just one nugget of insight boxing legend Manny Pacquiao said he has learned from being in politics.

There’s more:
• Politics is the “will of God, not a plan of man.”
• In politics, you have to “make your body available 24/7 to help the people.”
• In politics, you “always forgive your enemies.”

Pacquiao was elected congressman in 2010 representing the lone district of Sarangani province in Mindanao. He was reelected for another term. Even before that, he has surrounded himself with friends and advisers who are seasoned politicians.

He is now eyeing a seat in the Senate, saying he will be filing his Certificate of Candidacy when he arrives in the Philippines. He did not rule out an eventual run for the presidency.

His plan, he told a media conference at the Asia Society, is to file his candidacy with the PDP Laban party. “I will announce (more details) at the right time,” he said.

The Asia Society is honoring Pacquiao as Asia Game Changer of the Year for “making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world.”

Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran said, “Manny Pacquiao achieved his remarkable success after a childhood of extreme hunger and poverty. Today, Manny is a major humanitarian force, directing his philanthropy toward numerous causes, including education and the fight against human trafficking. He is a remarkable inspiration and demonstrates the power of giving back to transform people’s lives.”

Pacquiao said his heart has always been with the poor people of the Philippines. His candidacy for the Senate is meant to “help more people.”

“It’s a very difficult decision to make” especially for his family, he said, as he stressed he is not seeking political power for himself. “A lot of people have been coming to my house begging to help. That’s the time I decided to enter politics.”

His “mission,” he said further, is “to serve honestly.”

As a congressman, one of his pet issues is human trafficking. A bill he co-authored as a new congressman was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III in February 2013. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 mandates stricter penalties for convicted traffickers and calls for greater budget for the campaign to assist victims.

The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 puts the Philippines in Tier 2 identifying Manila as both “a source country” and “transit country” for trafficking. Pacquiao said he is seeking, through legislation, to get the Philippines out of Tier 2 and improve its standing before the international community.

Pacquiao turned reflective when asked about politics and boxing and what they have in common with each other.

“In the Philippines,” he replied, “politics is like boxing — people are always fighting each other.”

“A lot of politicians masquerade as righteous, especially at election time. But what I’ve learned is that you have to forgive your enemies,” he said further.

It is boxing that made him the person he is today: accomplished, famous, and motivated to help people.

“My life has changed because of the money I’ve earned in boxing,” he said. “I can go all over the world and enjoy myself. But every time I hear the voice of poor people, I feel it in my heart because I’ve been there.”

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