Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said on Monday he plans to run for a post in the influential Philippine Senate despite a lacklustre stint as a congressman.
The star announced he will run as a candidate for the 24-seat upper chamber in May 2016, to mixed reactions from fans.
“Yes, I’m going to run for (a) Senate post this coming 2016 election. But as to which party, that’s still to be determined,” said the fighter.
The boxer popularly known as “Pac-Man”, said President Benigno Aquino’s ruling Liberal Party had been courting him but added that he is also close to the leaders of rival parties.
Pacquiao, 36, used his athletic renown to be elected as congressman of an impoverished district in the southern Philippines in 2010, despite his punishing training schedule and a foray as playing coach in the country’s competitive basketball league.
He has won eight world championships in different weight divisions but lost the richest fight in boxing history in a unanimous decision to his American rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in May.
While still retaining his popularity among sports fans, Pacquiao has been harshly criticised for his performance in the House of Representatives where he has been listed among the legislators with the most absences.
As a congressman, Pacquiao was elected by the voters of his district but in the Philippines, senators are elected nationally, posing a larger challenge.
The reaction in social media to Pacquiao’s plans for the Senate was largely negative.
“Pacman, you’re my idol. But in the boxing ring. Not in Congress. Sorry,” one fan posted on Twitter.
“Pacquiao, you can’t even go to sessions in Congress. Now you want to go to Senate? What are you going to do there?,” said another.