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
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
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
"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.