MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao formally joined Vice-President Jejomar Binay's camp on Monday night.
Pacquiao took his oath as a member of Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which has joined forces with former President Joseph Estrada's Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) for the 2013 mid-term elections.
Senator Koko Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, led the oath-taking ceremony at Makati Shangri-La.
"We took in Pacquiao not because he can make us win but because he believes in the tenets of the party," Pimentel said.
"Sarangani Representative Pacquiao is a great addition to the party's goal of further developing and helping Mindanao," PDP-Laban said in a statement online.
Pacquiao used his left hand in taking the oath, which is a PDP-Laban tradition, according to the party.
"Left is closer to the heart, PDP-Laban said. "Using the left hand in taking one's oath of membership, reciting the party creed, and shaking hands with a member has been a 30-year tradition."
PDP-Laban secretary general Joey de Venecia and party leaders were present during Pacquiao's oathtaking.
"Most had prior commitments but even if it's late at night, it still pushed through! Everyone's committed to having Pacman," the party said.
Pacquiao will be PDP-Laban's candidate for governor of Sarangani in the May 2013 local elections.
Jumping political ships
It is the third time that Pacquiao has switched political parties.
He was part of the so-called "Atienza wing" of the Liberal Party before joining then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), which has fallen into the shadows since Arroyo's term ended in 2010.
Pacquiao left Kampi for the Nacionalista Party of Senator Manny Villar, before joining Binay's PDP-Laban.
Although he was a Nacionalista Party member, he was an ally of the Aquino administration and the ruling Liberal Party.
The Liberal Party has said that Pacquiao has not been an "official" member of the party.
Meantime, Pacquiao has denied being snubbed by President Aquino in Davao.
"Sa harapan, nakita naman niya ako, nag-hello naman ako. God knows na wala akong pagdaramdam kung di niya ako kamayan. Akin lang sana maresolve ang problema sa power sa Mindanao," he said.
He hinted at being no longer being welcome in the administration party.
"Kaibigan rin naman natin si Vice President Binay, so we also support him. Kung hindi ka tanggap doon sa kabila, bakit mo ipagsisiksikan ang sarili mo," he said.
A Binay confidante, former Senator Ernesto Maceda, said Pacquiao's decision to join PDP-Laban is a "big loss" for the Liberal Party.
He said Pacquiao's support is huge and gets lots of votes in Mindanao, particularly Sarangani, South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos City.
“He is a big loss for the LP. He is an incumbent congressman. He is a big fish, a big addition. I don’t know why he didn't push through in the LP but there are a lot of reports that if there are original Liberals in a province or municipality and if they say no, they will not take in the new member,” Maceda said.
"I admire Pacquiao because it was not easy to shun the administration and join the opposition," he added. - with a report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News