MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Filipino boxing champ and Senator, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao visited government troops here as the fighting between the military and ISIS-backed Maute group drags on for more than two months on Saturday, July 29.
Pacquiao is the first senator who visited Marawi City after the siege started on May 23. He is a military reservist with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Reserve Force of the Philippine Army.
He first joined the reserve force of the Army in April of 2006 as sergeant. He was then promoted to technical sergeant, master sergeant and to senior master sergeant.
In his speech, “Pacman” jested that he is prepared to join the military if he gets invited to help the fight against violent extremism in Mindanao.
“Gusto kong sumama sa inyo sa labanan, gusto n’yo ba ‘yun (I want to join you in the fight, would you like me to do that?),” he said.
But Pacquiao added: “Kaya lang, kapag sumama ako sa inyo ay may mangyari sa akin, wala na kayo’ng mapapanood sa babaw ng ring (But if I go with you and something bad happens to me, you won’t be able to see me inside the boxing ring).”
The senator advised the troops to not surrender.
“Kumbaga sa boxing, nasa last three rounds na lang tayo ngayon at malapit nang matapos (Just like in boxing, we are down to the last three rounds already, almost nearing the culmination),” he said.
The senator said he visited Marawi City to show his sympathy to the soldiers who were killed in the operations. He said he appreciated their sacrifices to liberate the city and bring back peace in Mindanao.
“Masakit din sa amin ‘yun. Masakit para sa akin dahil hindi mo na maibabalik ‘yung buhay nila. Dalawang kamay salute ako sa ating mga kasundaluhan na lumalaban at hindi sumusuko (It is painful for us because we cannot bring back their lives. Two hand salutes to our soldiers who fought and never surrendered),” he said.
“Huwag tayong sumuko. Ipaglaban natin ang tama. Kasi kapag sumuko tayo, hindi gaganda ang ating bansa. Maraming salamat sa inyong pakikipaglaban para sa kapayapaan ng ating bansa, para sa kapakanan ng maraming mamamayang Pilipino (Let us not surrender. Let us fight for what is right. Because if we surrender, our country will be destroyed. Thank you for fighting for peace in our country, and for many Filipinos),” Pacquiao said. (davaotoday.com)