MANILA – The Army Reserve Command said it will give Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao a Military Merit Medal (MMM) for his recent victory over American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr.
Brig. Gen. Alexis Tamondong, commander of the Army Reserve Command, said the merit medal will be conferred to Pacquiao upon the latter's return to the country from the United States.
Tamondong said Pacquiao's victory not only boosted the morale of the members of the Army Reserve Command, the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines but also of the entire Filipino nation.
"It boosted the morale of our troops. They look up to him as a model for excellence. Our soldiers and even our reserve force consider Manny as their inspiration," he said.
Pacquiao outpointed Bradley Jr. over the course of 12 rounds to avenge a controversial loss and hand the American his first-ever career defeat last Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (Sunday in Manila).
Pacquiao, the former pound-for-pound king of boxing and eight-division world champion, made sure that there would be no doubts this time as he won a clear decision, 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110, to regain the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title that he lost to the American in June 2012.
Tamondong explained that the conferment of the merit medal is the least the military can offer to Pacquiao to recognize the boxing champion's latest accomplishment.
"What we can give at our level is Military Merit Medal, unless higher headquarters gives [a higher award] which is not in our level,'' he said.
The conferment of the merit medal to Pacquiao needs no approval from Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, Tamondong said.
The Filipino boxing champion received a commendation letter from the Army Reserve Command after his win via a unanimous decision against Mexican-American boxer Brandon Rios in November 2013.
Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson Major General Domingo Tutaan Jr. said Pacquiao, who currently holds a lieutenant colonel rank in the Army's reserve force, cannot be promoted to full colonel at this point.
Tutaan explained that Pacquiao has to finish the General Command and Staff Course offered by the military to become eligible for promotion.
"This is true also for reserve force. He has to undertake all the necessary requirements for him to be promoted to full colonel," Tutaan said.
Pacquiao earned the lieutenant colonel rank in the reserve force in December 2011, jumping five ranks from his previous rank of master sergeant.
His being commissioned to the reserve force, however, was questioned by several quarters, with defense and security expert Dr. Clarita Carlos saying that Pacquiao's honorary degree and status as a world boxing champion was not enough to earn him the rank as a commissioned officer in the Philippine Army.
AFP chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista, who was at that time the Philippine Army's commanding general, defended the conferment of the lieutenant colonel rank to Pacquiao, citing the provisions of Section 44 of Republic Act 7077, which provides that elected officials and presidential appointees may be commissioned into the Reserve Force.