Atienza urges Pacquiao: Keep on boxing
MANILA, Philippines — A long-time supporter of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao advised the champion, on the eve of his homecoming, to concentrate on his sports career amid talk he would give politics a second try.
“We have not discussed politics before the fight [or] after the fight. My advice to him is to continue on his career and continue bringing honor and glory to the country,” Environment Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza told a news conference at the Palace.
“Let the events take care of themselves. Kung talagang naaukol sa ‘yo ang pulitika, darating yan [Politics will come to you if it’s meant for you]. You’re a boxing genius,” Atienza recalled telling Pacquiao.
Pacquiao will be officially named “ambassador of peace” when he pays a courtesy call to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang on Wednesday, deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said in a statement.
Fajardo also said: “In Congress, he is being eyed to run for a congressional seat representing one of the areas of NCR [National Capital Region] come 2010.”
She did not return calls seeking clarification on whether or not the administration coalition would draft Pacquiao in the 2010 elections. Pacquiao is reportedly eyeing a congressional seat in Quezon City.
Pacquiao lost to incumbent South Cotabato Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio in the 2007 elections.
On Saturday [Sunday in Manila], Pacquiao defeated “Golden Boy” Oscar dela Hoya via a technical knockout in the eighth round of their much-hyped bout in Las Vegas.
He will arrive in the country at 5:30 a.m. on board a Philippine Airlines flight from Los Angeles. After resting at the hotel, he will hear mass at the Quiapo church in Manila, before proceeding to the Palace to meet Arroyo, Atienza said.
Breaking from tradition, the motorcade will be held on Thursday, a day after Pacquiao’s arrival, instead of on the day of his arrival, Atienza said.
The motorcade will start at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at 8:30 a.m., and would pass through Quezon City and Manila, for the first time in recent years, before winding up at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Atienza said.
“Ang pinakamahalagang pasalubong kay Manny ay yung init ng pagpapasalamat, pagmamalaki at pagpaparangal na ibibigay sa kanya ng sambayanang Pilipino [The most precious gift for Manny is the warm gratitude, acclaim and praise given him by the Filipino nation,” he said.
“We invite everybody to join Manny if not along the route [of the motorcade], at the mall of Asia,” he said.
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