People’s champ

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Saturday, December 7, 2013


FRANKLY, I’ve never heard of a more harebrained idea.

Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo recently filed a measure seeking lifetime tax exemption for Manny Pacquiao as a sign of appreciation for Manny’s achievements and for the honor he has brought the country.

I have many objections to this measure.

First, it is highly unjust. Taxes are levied by the state according to one’s ability to pay, not by one’s ability to lobby. Last year, Manny was listed by Forbes magazine as the world’s 14th highest-paid athlete with an estimated $34 million in earnings. He doesn’t deserve a tax break.

Second, who defines what honor is? While it may be the opinion of many that Manny has brought honor to the country, I disagree.

While boxing is a sport of great skill, I do not see any honor in a sport whose end goal is injury.

Knocking down one’s opponent, rendering him physically weak until he is unable to fight back, inflicting physical injury that can sometimes lead to permanent disability or even death is not only acceptable but necessary to participate if not to win in this sport.

A boxing match is no better than a backyard brawl disguised as a professional sport. I do not see any redeeming value in a sport that triumphs in injury or even death. Manny, in the eyes of many, may have achieved much but he did so at the cost of his humanity.
   
Third, despite Manny mania, Manny is not a demigod. Manny’s rise to fame and fortune makes him a perfect Cinderella Man. Worshipped by the Filipino masses entrenched in poverty, people see in Manny the hope that one can climb out of a ditch to make it big not only in the city but globally.

That is the magic that Manny wields.

But the magic blinds. Desperate, young men faced with few prospects in life are lured into the ring as a way out of the streets.

Unknowingly, they sign up to become punching bags and sometimes end their careers in body bags. They enter the ring despite the risks because of the rewards. They make the choice to sell their souls in the process.  

I am aware that I am a lone voice in the sea of die-hard Manny devotees. But I stand firm in saying that Manny should not be treated differently than any of us lesser mortals and ordinary citizens. If government believes that Manny has brought honor to the country, then give him a parade.

But a tax break? It’s ludicrous in the face of his immense personal wealth vis a vis the teeming poverty of the majority in this country.

Why should Manny’s achievements exempt him from taxes? He is not alone in bringing honor to the country. There are countless Filipinos in many other fields who deserve a tax break more than Manny because they work hard yet don’t earn much despite their heroic efforts to make a difference in the country.  

Manny endures the blows and the punches. But in return, he also gets the millions. Why does he seek sympathy for a career freely chosen that has rewarded him handsomely? Achievement while laudable should not be used to lobby against fulfilling civic duties. If Manny wants to be a real people’s champ, he should not ask to be treated differently.

(E-mail: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com,Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 08, 2013.

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