POSTSCRIPT / May 5, 2009 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pacquiao is, you know, also a budding politico

VIRULENT VIRUS: Boxing fans of Manny Pacquiao want the dirty politicians to leave their hero alone and not contaminate him with their virulent strain of political swine virus.

But it may be too late, you know. The virus apparently has bitten the Pambansang Kamao. Even with his defeat in the 2007 election for the congressional seat of his native General Santos City, he now appears raring to bounce back into the political ring.

He has been in a celebratory mood, primed to take on anyone, after devastating British brawler Ricky Hatton last Sunday and divesting him of his IBO junior welterweight crown as he lay half-dead on the canvas.

The talk now amid cheers and the clink of wine glasses is that he would run — but not in General Santos, where Rep. Darlene Antonio-Custodio is doing a fine job, but in adjacent Sarangani province where his wife Jinkee also holds residence.

Now you know.

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PACQUIAO PARTY: Won’t a run for a House or provincial seat in May 2010 derail his hectic training and fight schedule? All that appears to have been figured out neatly — assuming the stars stay in their appointed places and cooperate.

Word from the Commission on Elections has it that Pacquiao filed last December a petition asking for the accreditation of his new local political party called People’s Champ Movement. Siempre, the petition is as good as approved.

But Comelec commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said Pacquiao’s local party could field candidates only for posts in General Santos and Sarangani.

No problem, because at the moment, the greatest boxer on earth is aiming only for a congressional seat or the governorship.

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TIGHT TIMETABLE: The battle plan is clear enough to us eavesdroppers and the timetable looks tight but manageable.

Interviewed on dzBB upon his return to Los Angeles yesterday, Pacquiao said that his next fight will probably be in October or November. He will fight Floyd Mayweather or whoever his promoters pick as his worthy opponent to bring in the millions.

His camp will be watching the outcome of the comeback bout on July 18 of former undisputed welterweight champion Mayweather against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez.

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FEARFUL FOES: By the time Pacquiao takes on Mayweather (or whoever), it would be just in time for the November deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

There will be more than enough time, you know, for the ensuing Pacquiao skip-a-rope campaign for the local elections five months later.

We can imagine Sarangani’s Rep. Erwin Chiongbian and Gov. Miguel Dominguez already squirming in their corners as they await the challenger to climb the ring.

Not counting his purses from earlier fights, plus the pile of money earned from advertisments and investments, his six-minute performance at the MGM Grand had grossed him more than half-billion-pesos – enough, you know, to make any poll rival tremble.

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ETHICS TRIAL: Another fight involving another Manny (also money) is raging in the Senate — between Sen. Manny Villar and some presidential rivals.

This ethics trial of Villar is part of an elimination round for the multi-stage presidential campaign culminating in May 2010. Several senators have said they are gunning for the presidency and there is a rush for the starting block.

The logic is simple enough. Other presidential hopefuls in the small chamber have to demolish Villar this early as he has been consistently leading opposition aspirants in nationwide approval and popularity surveys.

The last survey of the Social Weather Stations asked 1,200 respondents who in their mind was the best person to succeed President Arroyo in 2010.

Their top-of-mind answers showed this ranking: Noli de Castro, 18 percent, Manny Villar, 13; Chiz Escudero, 11; Loren Legarda, 11; Erap Estrada, 9; Ping Lacson, 6; Mar Roxas, 5; and Miriam Santiago, 2. Other presidential aspirants got half (.5) percent or less.

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NO DUPLICATION: Villar is being accused by his rivals of inserting a second P200-million outlay for a C-5 project to improve, they said, the value of his real estate projects near C-5 and connecting roads.

That alleged double insertion has long been explained, but his rivals insist on beating the dead horse. Since the two outlays are both for P200 million, they insist they are the same. They are not.

There are actually two separate projects, one connecting C-5 to Parañaque and another connecting it to Cavite. Both improvements will relieve traffic congestion for millions of commuters, and each segment got one separate funding.

But with the howl in the Senate, the public works department sort of got timid about pursuing the projects. The road upgrading has been delayed and traffic jams continue.

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EFFECT VS INTENT: There is the other charge that real estate firms of Villar’s family would benefit from the C-5 alignment.

That might well be an effect of the improved traffic flow, but it has to be shown that that was the ulterior motive. Effect and intention are entirely two different things.

With Villar development projects sprawled in many areas in Paranaque and Cavite, it is inevitable that some of them will be traversed by new roads.

The criticism is just like the argument that then President Fidel Ramos was guilty of something when he upgraded roads going to Tagaytay because, it was claimed, he and his wife have landholdings in that resort area.

Must a lawmaker or an Executive block appropriations for areas where he or his family have properties? Whatever is the answer, any criminal or immoral intent must be proved. There is a presumption of good faith and regularity.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 5, 2009)

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