One arguably good outcome of the impeachment circus of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona is that it had turned politician against fellow politician in an amusing free-for-all fishing expedition for evidence of wrong-doing surrounding one another’s personal fortunes. Indeed, what is different today is that there is no one standout anti-corruption “czar”. What is emerging is a breakdown in what was once an uneasy but tacit truce among politicians not to breach the unspoken no-go-zone of lifting one another’s skirts to reveal the other’s greenbacked knickers.
Perhaps then it is no coincidence that the latest “victim” of this unfortunate (if you’ve got something to hide) environment that would-be crooks now have to navigate in the once-safe haven of “ill-gotten wealth” that is the Philippines is boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao (whose name is a homonym of the tagalog word pakyaw which means “to horde”) is currently being investigated for issues surrounding his taxation documents by Philippine authorities. A criminal complaint had recently been filed by the Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue against Filipino boxing star who is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s 24th wealthiest athlete.
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Bureau of Internal Revenue regional director Rozil Lozares says a complaint was filed March 1 after Pacquiao failed to submit the documents despite three notices and a subpoena.
He said Thursday that Pacquiao’s 2010 tax return contained “discrepancies” considering his many businesses and endorsements.
To follow through on his awesome achievements as a boxer, and then as a Philippine politician, Pacquiao is now busy styling himself as the Ninong ng Bayan — the “godfather of the Filipino people”. But there is a looming risk to Pacquiao’s fortunes down the path if he is to go down this slipperly slope. Sports writer Rafe Bartholomew observes…
Pacquiao’s political aspirations and career trajectory lead to one frightening question: If he retires sometime in the next two years, how will he maintain his income? Pacquiao’s generosity is as legendary as the straight left he’s used to knock out so many opponents, and he’ll need to keep raising money to keep up the image and the responsibilities of the pambansang ninong.
Bartholomew poses even more important questions and postulates scarier scenarios for Pacquiao…
If Pacquiao isn’t raking in a $20 to $30 million purse twice a year, where will the money to wage electoral campaigns in 2016 and 2022 come from? The traditional Filipino politician would spend the time between elections using the power of his office — often in less-than-ethical ways — to raise funds for his next campaign. Pacquiao’s boxing income has helped him maintain a clean reputation through his first two years in office, because he doesn’t need to divert government funds to side businesses or accept kickbacks from illegal lottery syndicates. Beyond that, I believe the hype about Pacquiao’s desire to be an honest politician and serve his country. But there will come a time when the boxing money faucet stops pouring, and all the hundreds — if not thousands — of people who look to Manny Pacquiao for their livelihoods will pressure him to find a way to keep the train moving, to keep giving out Manny’s many prizes. Great men, compassionate men — national heroes like Manny Pacquiao — have faltered under that kind of stress.
Filipino boxers following a rags-to-riches-to-rags sob story are nothing new. Recall the story of top boxing champ Rolando “Bad Boy from Dadiangas” Navarette who in 1981 won the WBC Superfeather Weight crown and successfully defended it once in a subsequent bout. Unfortunately he had since lost the fortune he earned from those achievements and now relies on government dole outs and charity.
Another prominent boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco who was a silver medalist in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta went on to become a moderately-successful comedian and showbiz personality in the Philippines.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.