MANILA (UPDATE 3) - Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Sunday formally announced his plan to run for president in the 2022 national elections with a promise to rule with "integrity, compassion and transparency."
Pacquiao announced his presidential candidacy during his PDP-Laban faction's national assembly in Quezon City, against the backdrop of an ongoing squabble within ruling party PDP-Laban.
"I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring," Pacquiao said after accepting nominations from around 20 PDP-Laban chapter leaders.
"Sa buong buhay ko, wala akong laban na inaatrasan dahil sa ngalan ng prinsipyo, karangalan ng bayan ay tumayo ako, nanindigan at nakikipaglaban," he said.
(In my entire life, I have never backed down from a fight as I stand firm in the name of principle and honor of country.)
Pacquiao cited his life experiences and ability to relate to poor Filipinos as one of the qualities that make him fit to become President.
"Sa mga nagtatanong kung ano ang ating kakayahan, naranasan niyo na po bang magutom... walang makain... mangutang sa kapitbahay o mag abang ng tira sa karinderya?" he said.
(To those asking what my qualifications are, have you experienced hunger... not being able to eat anything... borrow money from your neighbors or wait for leftovers from eateries?)
"Alam niyo po ba ang pakiramdam ng isang Pilipino na nakikipaglaban sa boxing? Nagpapabugbog sa kalaban na mas malaki at malakas para makabili ng pagkain?"
(Do you know the feeling of a Filipino boxer? They have to be battered by bigger and stronger opponents just to buy food.)
"Ang Manny Pacquiao na nasa harap ninyo ngayon ay pinanday ng hirap... Ang Manny Pacquiao na pilit nilang pinababagsak ay ilang beses nang bumangon, nagsikap at nagtagumpay... Alam ko ang hirap na naranasan ninyo at alam kong pagod na pagod na kayong lahat."
(The Manny Pacquiao in front of you today was forged by poverty... The Manny Pacquiao that they have been trying to take down is used to making comebacks, hardwork and victory... I know how it feels to be poor and I know how tired you all are.)
Pacquiao vowed to fight poverty and corruption, saying Filipinos have waited too long to see progress.
"Panahon na upang manalo naman ang mga naapi. Panahon na upang makabangon ang bayan natin na lugmok sa kahirapan," he said.
(It's time for the downtrodden to win. It's time for our nation to rise from poverty.)
Pacquiao was nominated by at least 20 PDP-Laban members with each region in the country fielding a representative to express support for the boxing icon's presidential bid.
This is a PDP-Laban that advocates "participatory governance," party chairman Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel said.
"Today, we will formally fight back against the hijackers... Lalaban po tayo (We will fight back)," Pimentel said referring to the ruling party's rival faction.
"Exciting ito dahil malaki ang posibilidad na mananalo tayo sa darating na halalan... at ang tunay na PDP-Laban ang magpapatakbo sa ating gobyerno," he said.
(This is exciting because there is a big possibility that we will win in the upcoming elections... and the real PDP-Laban will head our government.)
Pimentel and Pacquiao had repeatedly slammed Cusi's faction for allegedly coming up with party decisions based on the opinions of a few incumbent officials.
"Nasanay kasi yung kabila na magmi-meeting lang sa isang mamahaling hotel tapos okay na... Hindi kami ganun... We go to the grassroots," Ron Munsayac, executive director of the Pacquiao wing, said in an earlier interview.
(The other faction has been used to meeting in a posh hotel and deciding among themselves... We are not like that... We go to the grassroots.)
Around 80 PDP-Laban members were physically present in an undisclosed venue in Quezon City in support of Pacquiao's candidacy, while about 10,000 others attended virtually, he said.
FROM CLOSED FIST TO OPEN HAND
Pacquiao's PDP-Laban has noticeably dropped its logo with the closed "Duterte fist" and returned to its original emblem where Filipino hero Lapu-lapu and a pentagon carrying the party's name are placed in the palm of an open hand.
PDP-Laban has been using the open hand logo from its inception in 1983 until 2016, when the party backed then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's presidential candidacy.
Earlier this year, the ruling party had split into two factions after Pacquiao blocked his partymates' efforts to push Duterte to run for vice president next year.
Pacquiao's group is backed by Pimentel III - son of PDP-Laban founder and former Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr, while Duterte supports the wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Cusi's group initially urged Pacquiao to run for senator in a slate top-billed by Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go for president and Duterte for vice president.
Pacquiao's camp claimed that Go is only a decoy, as the Cusi wing is actually preparing to field Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio - who is not a PDP-Laban member - as their standard bearer.
Duterte-Carpio denied allegations that she will run for president, and said that she would not "share her light" with the ruling party by endorsing its candidates.
Cusi eventually withdrew the offer, saying the boxing senator has "burned all bridges" with his former allies.
Pacquiao, the lone 8-division world champion in the history of boxing, began his political career in 2010 as the Congressman of Saranggani, the home province of his wife Jinky.
After 2 terms in the House, Pacquiao won a seat in the Senate in 2016.
He is the second incumbent senator who will seek the Philippines' highest elected post in 2022.
Earlier this month, Sen. Panfilo Lacson launched his campaign for the presidency with Senate President Vicente Sotto III running as his vice president.