The New York Times recently published a profile on boxing champion and newly-minted Philippine congressman, Manny Pacquiao. Back in August, we wrote about Mr. Pacquiao’s dedication to eradicating modern day slavery. He gave a stirring speech at an anti-trafficking event, where he declared “an all-out war against human trafficking.”
Nowadays, his earnings are in the millions, but Pacquiao comes from one of the poorest slums in one of the poorest areas of the Philippines. And his congressional seat was not smoothly won. He had a failed attempt back in 2007, before winning enough votes this year. He had to beat out a man who occupied the political seat for three decades.
To the NYT, Pacquiao said, “I want to help people, especially in my province… When I’m old, I want my name, Manny Pacquiao, to be known not only as a good boxer but a good public servant.”
Recently, human trafficking seems to be becoming an important issue in Philippine politics. The country is currently on the Tier 2 Watch List in the Trafficking in Persons Report. If they slip into Tier 3, they may lose millions of dollars in foreign aid from the U.S.
In august, Pacquiao called for funds to be allocated to the National Bureau of Investigation and the government Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the government agency combatting slavery. The current budget for the IACAT, he announced was zero.
Today, Philippine President Benigno Aquino told GMA News that the government is beginning to take a tougher stance on human trafficking.
Here is the NYT profile on Congressman Manny Pacquiao, by Norimitus Onishi:
MANNY PACQUIAO’S black Hummer was nowhere in sight. The parade that he was supposed to lead had already wound down in front of the town hall here. His seat, the seat of honor, stood vacant on a stage on which singers, three beauty queens and the province’s ruling political class sat waiting.
Mr. Pacquiao, possibly the best boxer in the world and a new congressman in the Philippines, had awakened at home a little earlier, still jet-lagged from a trip to the United States, where he had been promoting his next fight. He was the main financial sponsor of the annual “foundation day” festival here in Alabel, the capital of Sarangani, the southern province that was carved out of another in 1992 and that he now represents in the House of Representatives.
Perhaps more than anywhere else in the Philippines, feudal-like dynasties dominate hereon the impoverished, violence-ridden island of Mindanao. But by brandishing his vast wealth, Mr. Pacquiao — who came out of one of this area’s poorest slums, finished only elementary school and often appears uncomfortable speaking English — defeated a member of the clan that founded Sarangani and that had held the congressional seat for three decades.
Outwardly, the establishment has welcomed Mr. Pacquiao, 31, since he was sworn in as Sarangani’s only congressman less than three months ago.