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Pacquiao supports Philippine death penalty plan

2016-05-19 21:49
Manny Pacquiao (File)

Manila - Philippine boxing hero turned senator Manny Pacquiao said on Thursday he supports a plan by the newly elected president to impose the death penalty, a proposal that has been met with strong opposition in the Catholic nation.

Speaking after he was sworn into office, the high school dropout and devout evangelical Christian said he supported capital punishment because it was sanctioned by his faith.

"I'm in favour of the death penalty. Actually God allows this in the Bible," Pacquiao told reporters after being formally sworn in as one of 12 new senators.

The remarks follow previous comments by the eight-time world boxing champion earlier this year describing homosexuals as "worse than animals".

Tough-talking Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to restore the death penalty as part of a campaign pledge to stamp out crime, a plan opposed by the Church and rights groups.

Pacquiao, who garnered more than 16 million votes in last week's national election, has vowed to take his political duties seriously after coming under fire for an undistinguished stint in the House of Representatives.

"I will perform this job well, avoid corruption, and be a God-fearing servant of the people," he said.

Analysts say the retired boxer has an eye on the presidency and his period in the senate is a possible stepping stone for the top office.

His performance in parliament was roundly criticised due to his frequent absences as he trained for boxing matches, hosted television shows and even dabbled in professional basketball.

Despite the retired boxer's political ambitions, Philippine sports officials have said they want the 37-year-old to go to the Rio Olympics in August if professional boxers are permitted to compete.

On Thursday, he said no decision had been made about whether he would go.

"We'll think that over thoroughly. I will also ask the Filipino people if they will allow me to do that," he said, noting the Senate begins sessions less than two weeks before the Games.

"People might say, 'Oh there he goes again, being absent in the first two months.' I'd rather not be subjected to that criticism again."

The sport's governing body, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) is expected to decide next month whether to allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympics.

Read more on:    manny pacquiao  |  boxing

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