Bob Arum of Top Rank boxing promotion is no Filipino. Yet, he seems to know more about Philippine politics than any citizen of the republic.
Last week, he divulged a conversation he had with Filipino boxing legend and Sen. Manny Pacquiao wherein the latter allegedly told him that he will be seeking the presidency come 2022 elections.
“Not true,” countered the Pacquiao camp. Having placed himself in a precarious situation, Arum immediately retracted his statement by explaining that he was quoted out of context. He said that his revelation that Pacquiao will run for the highest position is a mere personal impression which he assumed based on his past conversations with Pacquiao.
Well, the dye has been cast and notwithstanding Arum’s subsequent retraction, as between him, who had persistently and consistently predicted that the “Pacman” will become the 16th President of the Philippines, and Pacquiao, those who heard it believe that “Big Bob” is telling the truth. What about Pacquiao’s outright denial that he will not run for President. The answer to many is the opposite.
The Pacquiao that we know when he fought the likes of Marco Barrera, Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto, and Oscar dela Hoya is no longer the same. During those times, he was a pure and plain boxer, incapable of hiding his emotions. Through the years, he has reinvented himself and evolved into becoming an actor, a commercial endorser, a pastor, and yes, a politician. As a politician, he is of the same mindset as his ilk. Like a broken record, they always deny the obvious. They say that the election is still a good two years away and gunning from the presidency is farthest from their minds. They assert that there are more pressing matters that need their attention than thinking to aspire for a higher office. It is quite predictable, you know. Did not President Rodrigo Duterte deny his presidential bid? Did not former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo do the same? Why will Pacquiao be different? In Philippine politics, it is those who deny and catapult at the last minute that usually become the forerunners for the Office of the President.
Take note that every time Pacquiao swears to the world that he will not be seeking the presidency, he always says it in jest. There is that ever-present dimpled smile that makes his listeners doubt whether he is telling the truth. Not that Pacquiao is a liar, but when it comes to his career, he has misled his fans and supporters on at least two occasions. Remember when he said that he will retire from boxing only to be back in the ring a few months after his announcement? Remember when he said that po-litics is not for him when he lost his first stab at Congress, only to campaign on a different trail the next election? Why not a third? There is an itch to do what is supposed to be done. It is the nature of politicians.
It may be that Pacquiao’s denial is a political strategy to outwit his opponents and endear himself to the public. It is a known curse that those who preemptively announce their desire to become President are almost always despised and therefore, get defeated. In ordinary parlance, it is called purnada.
Taking the bold announcement of Arum aside, several factors indicate that Pacquiao is ripe for the presidency. Even the current President thinks so. Duterte minced no words in several of his speeches that if ever there is a budding politician who will succeed him, it is Pacquiao. Sure, Duterte will not decide Pacquiao’s fate but his endorsement carries a great weight in determining who will be the next president of the Philippines.
Besides, among the possible presidential bets, who is the most charismatic? Who has the most resources? Who can best create a well-oiled machinery to run a campaign? Who is the most popular? Who has the President’s backing? The answer is obvious. Nobody even comes close. And, given that in this country, popularity decides who will lead us, Pacquiao is left with no choice – denial or no denial.
For all we know, Pacquiao, who is considering taking on middleweight champion Genady Golovkin, whose weight category is two divisions heavier than welterweight, as his next opponent, is only doing so in order to attain a loftier goal. Defeating Golovkin, who towers over him and is at the prime of his career, is next to impossible. He may want to continue defying the odds in the boxing world so that when the right time comes, he may also defy the odds in the political world. Being significant is of utmost importance for him at this stage of his political career. Come election time, his name should be as popular as ever.
Why not? He may just be the man for the job.