By Daphne Galvez | Inquirer.net
Updated @ 1:20 a.m., May 11, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Manny Pacquiao has conceded the presidential race to frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., throwing in the towel in what could be the biggest fight of his life.
In the latest partial and unofficial count of the Commission on Elections, Pacquiao placed third among preferred presidential candidates, trailing far behind Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo.
“The people have spoken. The elections are over. So let‘s give unity a chance for the sake of peace and progress of the country,” he said in a video statement, spoken in a mix of Filipino and English, which was posted on Facebook on Tuesday night.
“My decision to run was driven by my utmost desire to serve the country and uplift the life of poor Filipinos. As a boxer and an athlete, I know how to accept defeat. I hope that even though I lost this fight, the Filipino people, especially the poor, will win,” Pacquiao added.
He thanked his family, especially his wife Jinkee, who accompanied him throughout his campaign, for their understanding and support.
Pacquiao bid Marcos, whom he called the next president, well, saying he was praying his administration would be successful and would help poor people.
For now, the outgoing senator said he would take the time to rest and be with his family.
“I will definitely continue my mission to help our people through the Manny Pacquiao Foundation. I will not turn back on serving the country and the poor people. I continue to love the Philippines, let’s join hands in uplifting the dignity of every Filipino,” the boxing champion said.
Pacquiao ended his message by thanking Filipinos for the opportunity, saying his heart purely cared for the poor people.
“Thank you very much to my fellow Filipinos for the opportunity. Manny Pacquiao loves you very much. Whatever happens, my heart truly cares for the poor people who are suffering,” he said. “Thank you very much and I hope the Lord will take care of you.”
During the campaign, Pacquiao warned that a Marcos victory would spell chaos, since his administration would be beset by protests from “yellows,” thus hampering the development of the country.
In March, Pacquiao also challenged Marcos to a one-on-one debate if the latter was “shy” to face a big crowd.
Since last year, Pacquiao has experienced a series of defeats. In August 2021, Pacquiao unanimously lost to Yordenis Ugas in their WBA (Super) welterweight match, which was his first fight in 25 months.
After this, he announced his retirement from boxing.
Days before the elections, his faction in the PDP-Laban, led by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, lost to the group of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in their bout for the party’s leadership.
The Commission on Elections has since ruled in favor of the Cusi wing’s petition to declare Pacquiao’s group as “illegitimate” and recognizing them as the “true and official members” of the ruling party PDP-Laban.
He also trailed in pre-election surveys, only ranking in fourth with only one-digit voter preference.
However, in the April Pulse Asia survey, Pacquiao improved his numbers, placing third among preferred presidential candidates with a 7% voter support.
In the 90-day campaign period, Pacquiao focused his platforms on alleviating poverty, jailing corrupt politicians, and free housing.
He said his presidential run is a “revolution of the poor,” saying this fight of his life is for those suffering in poverty like he did when he was young.
The boxer-turned-politician made fighting corruption and poverty the centerpiece of his campaign. He said his impoverished roots make him the best person to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte at the helm of the country.
He vowed to provide houses to millions of Filipinos, build a “mega-prison” for corrupt government officials, and increase the minimum wage of workers.
On the last day of the campaign period, two days before the elections, Pacquiao said he is ready to accept — like a boxer — whatever the results of the May 9 elections will be.
Pacquiao started his political career when he ran for a congressional seat in the South Cotabato province in the 2007 midterm elections.
He lost that election to the Antonio-Custodio political clan in General Santos City.
Pacquiao again attempted to enter politics for a congressional seat, this time in Sarangani province, in the 2010 elections. He finally won that round.
In the 2016 national elections, Pacquiao then tried his hand at a Senate seat, where he also succeeded.
He garnered over 16 million votes, landing 7th among the 12 new members of the upper chamber of Congress.
Pacquiao is boxing’s only eight-division champion. He won his first world title as a flyweight in 1998, three years after making his debut as a scrawny 16-year-old.