MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – World champion boxer Manny Pacquiao was sworn in as congressman of Sarangani province on Monday, vowing to be even more effective in government than he is in the ring.
Trading his gloves for a traditional barong, Pacquiao was among local officials who took their oaths of office in the capital of Sarangani province where he knocked out an entrenched political clan in the May 10 elections.
"I will be more effective in politics than in boxing," he told the crowd of 3,000 after the ceremonies.
The 31-year-old fighter said he would work on improving infrastructure, medical services and security during his three-year term in parliament.
Before his oath-taking, Pacquiao transferred from the Nacionalista Party (NP) of defeated presidential bet Manny Villar to the Liberal Party of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“Susuportahan natin yung administrasyon na uupo ngayon, si Noynoy, dahil maganda rin naman ang hangarin niya at para din naman sa kababayan natin,” Pacquiao explained to reporters on Sunday.
Pacquiao said he even spoke with NP standard-bearer Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, Jr. to explain his decision. The 7-division world champion endorsed Villar's bid for the presidency in the May 10 polls.
He also said that he moved to the LP because he wants to make sure that the influx of projects in Sarangani Province will continue.
Pacquiao paid a courtesy call to Aquino last May at the President-elect’s home along Times Street in Quezon City where they talked about the problems of Sarangani Province as well as the power crisis in Mindanao. (Read: Manny Pacquiao vows support for Noynoy Aquino)
The Filipino boxing superstar, however, did not say when he will take his oath as a member of the LP.
|Jinkee Pacquiao at her husband's inauguration.
Serve the people
Pacquiao, meantime, also spoke to his political allies on Sunday to remind them about the real reasons why there were elected—to serve the people of Sarangani Province and fulfill the promises they made during the campaign period.
His inauguration, which began at 9 a.m. on Monday, was held at the Sarangani Provincial Capitol grounds. He took his oath alongside other elected officials of the province.
He said he would thank former Sarangani Province Rep. Erwin Chiongbian. Pacquiao defeated the former congressman’s brother, Roy, in the May 10 elections.
The world-renowned boxing champion also mentioned that he will continue the programs of the former administration. He is also looking forward to making his promises happen.
Pacquiao finished his 10-day executive coaching course last Friday, receiving his Development Legislation and Governance course certificate from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in Ortigas, Pasig City. (Read: Pacquiao finishes 10-day course, now ready for Congress)
Continue to fight
Pacquiao, who is regarded as a national hero in the boxing crazy Philippines, has said he can continue to fight even while serving as a legislator.
Boxing promoters are working to arrange a bout between Pacquiao and American Floyd Mayweather in November, to settle once and for all the fighters' claim to be the best fighter, pound-for-pound, of their generation.
Negotiations for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight fell through earlier this year when the American insisted on Olympic-style random drug testing, which the Filipino rejected as too intrusive before a bout.
His winnings from boxing as well as his commercial endorsements last year made Pacquiao the world's sixth-highest paid athlete, with earnings of $40 million, according to Forbes magazine. – With reports from Jay Dayupay, ABS-CBN News SOKSARGEN, and AFP