Pacquiao: poverty almost made him join the NPA

Feb. 17, 2022

Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao during the Peace and the Presidentiables forum organized by the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace (CAJP) last February 15.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Presidential aspirant and boxing icon Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao said that had he not become a boxer, he would have taken up arms and joined the New People’s Army because of poverty.

Pacquiao said this during an online forum with peace advocates in a Peace and the Presidentiables forum on February 15.

Kung hindi ako siguro naging Manny Pacquiao, tapos sa hirap ng buhay namin, hindi ko po masasabi, malamang humawak din ako ng armas at namundok ako. Hindi natin masisi ang ibang tao na mamundok o humawak ng armas dahil sa kahirapan. ‘Pag nagugutom ka, wala ka nang maisip,” he said.

(If I had not become Manny Pacquiao, with the hardship we felt, I cannot say that I may have carried a firearm and gone up the hills. You can’t blame people who go up the mountains or hold firearms because of poverty. If you’re hungry, you have no other choice).

Pacquiao was born and raised in Kibawe, Bukidnon where he and his family witnessed the armed conflict. He said during the forum that not a week went by without hearing gunfights.

Pacquiao’s family later moved to General Santos City, home of his mother Dionisia.

The boxing icon-turned-senator said this childhood experience made him realize that widespread poverty, lack of economic opportunities, and systemic corruption leads to inequality and is at the root of the armed conflict.

Pacquiao believes the resumption of the formal negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front can put an end to this situation.

Kailangan pakinggan sila ng ating gobyerno. Lahat po may solusyon kung pag-usapan, (Government should listen to them. A solution can be reached by talking),” he said.

The senator is the first of the presidential candidates to appear on the Peace and the Presidentiables forum organized by the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace (CAJP) composed of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), Pilgrims for Peace, Sulong PEACE, and Waging Peace.

The forum was launched in partnership with the Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission of the De La Salle University system, Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City, Silliman University Student Council in Dumaguete, St. Scholastica’s College Manila, and the University of the Philippines.

Pacquiao said the talks held in previous administrations already had agreements which need to be implemented.

During the Duterte administration, the GRP and NDF panels were laying down an agreement on socio-economic reforms that includes agrarian reform and industrialization. President Duterte cancelled the talks in 2017.

Pacquiao agrees that agrarian reform is a way of addressing the roots of armed conflict, and calls for the inclusion of indigenous peoples as important stakeholders in the resumption of the peace talks.

He is also open to amend the controversial Anti-Terror Law because of provisions that violate human rights. He also promised to expedite the proceedings involving political detainees to ensure they will be released sooner.

The CAJP aims to engage presidential aspirants to make peace an important issue in the 2022 elections. — report by Jan Gargallano (

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