Manny Pacquiao gestures during a hearing on the extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals at the Philippine Senate in August (Mark R. Cristino/EPA)
Poor Manny Pacquiao. All the boxer wants to do this week is return to the ring after a seven-month retirement, take the WBO welterweight championship belt from current champion Jessie Vargas, and make millions of dollars, but the outside world keeps interfering, demanding to know not just what the longtime fighter thinks of his chances against Vargas but what the new senator thinks of his country’s draconian anti-drug policies and recent self-destructive geopolitical maneuvering. What a fucking hassle.
This whole week leading up to his comeback fight Pacquiao has been answering questions about his new life as a senator and support of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose ultraviolent war on drugs, affection for extrajudicial killings, affiliations with anti-narcotic death squads, and self-confessed similarity to Adolf Hitler have made him the most-hated man among the international community’s human rights advocates. All the while Pacquiao has been supportive of his old friend, leading the charge in the senate for the reinstatement of the death penalty for drug dealers and ousting the chair of the committee tasked with investigating Duterte’s connection to violent vigilante groups.
But it’s not easy preparing for a boxing match while simultaneously being a vocal partisan for a madman. Just ask Pacquiao, who warned those gathered at a recent press conference for Saturday’s fight in Las Vegas that mixing sport and politics is tiring work.
“It’s going to be a historical fight because it’s my first fight being a senator,” Pacquiao said with a smile. “I’ll tell you this: Don’t do this. Being a senator and a fighter is not easy.” Then Pacquiao laughed and the pressroom and the ring girls laughed with him.
But even first-term senators ….View full article