MANILA, Philippines -- National Artist F. Sionil Jose on Monday expressed his belief that Filipino boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao is qualified to run for president of the Philippines in 2022.
This, after Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum said last week that Pacquiao is eyeing a presidential run. Pacquiao later denied discussing his political plans with the boxing promoter.
In his "Hindsight" column that was posted on his personal Facebook account, Jose noted that there are already plenty who oppose Pacquiao's candidacy, even if he has yet to make a formal or public announcement about it.
"As a boxing icon, is he qualified?" Jose posited. "What really are the qualifications of a presidential candidate? Were Cory Aquino and her son qualified? Yes, (Ferdinand) Marcos was very qualified -- but look at what he did to this country. He is precisely the best argument against those so-called brilliant politicians who want to be President."
Jose listed some reasons why Pacquiao is qualified to make a run for the highest office in the land, starting with his financial capability to campaign. The "Po-on" author noted that because of his earnings from boxing, Pacquiao "does not have to scrounge for funds."
He also stressed Pacquiao's intelligence, as evidenced by his success in boxing. "To be where he is, he trained very hard, disciplined himself, and studied himself, his opponents, their strengths and weaknesses," Jose wrote. "His response, powered by his intelligence, is automatic and quick."
Pacquiao's background is also a point in his favor, according to Jose. Having risen from poverty to earning millions with every fight, the "Pacman" knows "that poverty is our people's most serious problem." "How to abolish it, I hope, is his first priority," Jose added.
Jose also highlighted Pacquiao's faith and religion, "which give him moral strength and direction."
The writer expressed his hope that Pacquiao's experience as a senator "has illustrated to him who are the real enemies of the Filipino people, who made them poor."
Jose stressed that as a leader, Pacquiao should surround himself with "the hundred best people in the country," who can offer him the best advice. He must also be open to criticism, and realize that the adulation of the people is something that cannot last.
"Manny Pacquiao has a lot of physical courage," Jose concluded. "I hope he has moral courage, too."
Jose, 95, wrote the famed "Rosales Saga," a five-book series detailing Philippine history through the lives of two families, based in the author's hometown of Rosales, Pangasinan. His works have been translated to over two dozen languages.
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