Can We Separate The Pugilist From The Politician?
Manny Pacquiao has defeated Lucas Matthysse by knocknout to claim the title of WBA welterweight champion. As of yesterday, that is a fact—a fact that some Filipinos still celebrate by virtue of Pacquiao's representation of our country in international boxing. While the aging pugilist's latest prizefight no longer had the same palpable air of national importance that his previous fights did, there were still many people who cheered him on and shared in his victory. This is ostensibly because he still has a broad fanbase, and, well, because Pinoy pride.
But these are also facts: As a senator, Manny Pacquiao has used the Christian Bible to defend the death penalty, saying "Even Jesus Christ nga nasentensyahan ng kamatayan dahil ang government nag-impose talaga ng kamatayan." As congressman, Pacquiao voted against the Reproductive Health Bill in 2012. He has also infamously referred to homosexuals as "mas masahol pa sa hayop." (Memorably prompting an impassioned retaliation from talk show host Boy Abunda, as well as the termination of his Nike contract). In the past, Pacquiao the politician has also been criticized for frequent absenteeism and ill-preparedness.
Which brings us to the question that lingered after his recent win: Can you celebrate Manny Pacquiao the boxer if you disagree with him as a politician? Can you condemn one compartment of his character while also cheering on another? Is Pacquiao not only a politician because of his boxing career, and how should that affect our support of the pambansang kamao? Such has kept Filipinos on Twitter occupied over the past few days, yielding a lot of strong opinions. Here are a few worth pondering: