Pacquiao joins Binay's party; oath-taking readied

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Friday, April 13, 2012


MANILA -- The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, is preparing for the swearing in of its latest recruit, Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao.

Reports of Pacquiao bolting the majority coalition of congressmen backing President Benigno Aquino III surfaced on Thursday, when the world boxing champion expressed willingness to join Binay’s camp after the two met in an event of the Philippine Sportswriting Association (PSA) last month.

But for party president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, it actually took 10 months for them to finally convince Pacquiao to be part of PDP-Laban, which recently formed an alliance with the camp of former President Joseph Estrada for the 2013 midterm elections.

“We already have a meeting of the minds but we have yet to finalize the schedule of the oath-taking. I cannot say yet if it will happen before he takes on Timothy Bradley this June,” Pimentel said, referring to Pacquiao’s upcoming defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao, who lost his first try in politics in 2007, said he is going to run for governor next year, trading positions with incumbent Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez in deference to a political arrangement last July.

Dominguez is constitutionally barred to contest for a fourth consecutive term.

Pacquiao, who runs the Sarangani-based People’s Champ Movement (PCM), will likely hold the position of provincial chairman, Pimentel said, although he “can also be a national officer if he wishes.”

Asked of what convinced Pacquiao to choose the party, the senator said, “He likes our ideology and it also helped that his chief of staff (lawyer Franklin Gacal) was a former party lecturer on (PDP-Laban) ideology.”

The ruling Liberal Party declined to comment on Pacquiao's political plans but in a text message, party spokesman Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said, "Pacquiao was not a member of the LP. He was a member of the majority coalition."

Meanwhile, Pimentel clarified that Pacquiao’s impending transfer has nothing to do with the government’s decision to slap him with contempt charges for failing to present tax-related documents.

"That is not related to the recruitment. We have been asking him to join us for some 10 months already," he told Sun.Star.

Pacquiao earlier said he should no longer be taxed for earnings from his fights abroad consistent to the Philippines-United States tax treaty, but Malacañang surmised that the investigation will have something to do with his local endorsements.

There are reports indicating the case is connected to the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, but the Palace already denied it is going after Pacquiao for his failure to sign the complaint.

This will be Pacquiao’s second party after campaigning for losing presidential candidate Senator Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party in May 2010.

A close ally of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the 33-year-old boxer even committed to join the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) but snubbed the oath-taking rites in February 2007.

He transferred to the administration a day before Aquino's inauguration as president on June 30, 2010. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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