MANILA (AFP) – Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao has no immediate plans to run for president, his chief aide said Tuesday, following a fierce political backlash to comments he wanted to lead his country.
The “Pacman” was pummelled by Filipino politicians and on social media after he told AFP in Macau at the weekend he aspired to be president, with critics saying this meant he planned to run in 2016, chief of staff Franklin Gacal told AFP.
“He knows very well that he will not be qualified to run for president in 2016 because of the age requirement,” Gacal said.
The constitution says a presidential candidate must be at least 40 years old on election day.
Gacal insisted Pacquiao, 34, a former world champion in eight weight divisions who is now serving a second term in the lower house of the Philippine parliament, knows his law.
He said Pacquiao was “saddened” by the ferocity of criticism over his comments, which were made to AFP while promoting his November fight with American Brandon Rios in Macau.
“He was ridiculed on the Internet as somebody who does not know his law,” he said.
Politicians had criticised Pacquiao on television, newspapers and radio for the past two days, Gacal added.
When pressed during the AFP interview on whether he had thought about trying to become president, Pacquiao replied: “Yes”.
Drawing parallels between his pugilism and political careers, Pacquiao said: “When I started boxing, of course I was planning, you know and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I enter politics it’s the same thing.
“But, you know, it’s far away,” he said, adding: “It’s God’s will.”
Pacquiao did not mention any timeframe, nor state any ambitions for the 2016 elections.
Pacquiao, whose record stands at 54 wins, five losses and two draws, has been under pressure from his wife and mother to hang up his gloves after losing his last two bouts.
He was knocked out by Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez last December, after controversially losing by split decision to American Timothy Bradley in June.
Pacquiao, a high-school dropout, used the fame and riches generated from his boxing to launch a successful political career.
He won a seat representing the impoverished southern province of Sarangani in 2010, and was re-elected unopposed this year.