Manny Pacquiao senate victory takes him closer to presidency

Manny Pacquiao senate victory takes him closer to presidency

Boxing great Manny Pacquiao has won a seat in the Philippine Senate, according to an unofficial count, bringing him closer to a possible crack at the presidency.

The 37-year-old Filipino has won more than 15.5 million votes with over 96% of voting precincts counted and was in seventh place out of 12 winning senators.

Earlier this year, he said he planned to retire from boxing to become a full-time politician.

Pacquiao is considered a hero in the country that grinds to a halt so people can root for him during his televised fights. He has indicated in the past he would consider a run for the presidency but has tried to ditch the topic, saying he was too young.

During his senatorial campaign, he bounced back impressively following a huge drop in support after his remarks in February that people in same-sex relations were "worse than animals".

The Bible-quoting candidate apologised to people hurt by his comments but made clear he opposed same-sex marriage.

President Benigno Aquino III revealed in April that the Abu Sayyaf militant group considered abducting Pacquiao, along with the president's sister, who is a wealthy and popular actress.

Despite the warning, Pacquiao continued to campaign openly with few visible escorts in the south region where the militants are based.

Pacquiao came from an impoverished family and worked odd jobs before lacing up the gloves at the age of 12. He rose steadily and became a champion in eight boxing divisions then one of the world's most celebrated and wealthiest athletes.

Manny Pacquiao senate victory takes him closer to presidency

He has represented southern Sarangani province in the House of Representatives since May 2010, although he has been criticised for seldom showing up for legislative duties due to his boxing and training.

He ran for the Senate under the ticket of losing presidential candidate Jejomar Binay, but also was endorsed by controversial Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the winner of the presidential race, according to unofficial results.

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