Manny Pacquiao, professional boxer and politician, and currently serving as a Senator of the Philippines, spoke at the Oxford Union on the 5th November.
In a statement, seen by The Oxford Student, the society has sad the following statement: “We recognise that the decision to invite Mc Pacquiao to the Oxford Union may have been promoted by his exemplary achievements in the world of boxing.”
“The Society feels however that it would be remiss in its duties if Mr Pacquiao’s visit to the Oxford Union is not properly put in its context. After all, his invitation into the Oxford Union, which has invited extensive media attention in the Philippines, could appear like a validation of his personal advocacies as a Senator, aside from his career in boxing.”
The Philippines Society have expressed that they hope his invitation will not be seen as a validation of his performance as a legislator given that his stances on many issues have seen to undermine “fundamental human rights.
The President of the Society identifies three of these issues, In particular:
“ Mr Pacquiao has commented that people who engage in homosexual relations are ‘mas masahol pa sa hayap’ (worse than animals)”
“More recently, with his role as Senator, Mr Pacquiao has been pushing for the reimposition of capital punishment ie. The death penalty, with a specific focus on drug related offences in obvious support for Philippine president Duterte’s “ war on drugs”.”
“Early in his political career, Mr Pacquiao voted against early versions of a bill that is now the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, citing the usual weak religious arguments against the promotion of artificial contraception. The R. H Law supports sex education and gives the poor better access to contraception”
The statement ends with the following: “ Mr Pacquiao probably is only capable of directly hurting other human beings by jabbing at them in boxing matches. But as a well-known athlete with the world as his stage, the reach and influence of his words, if left unchecked, might harm and knockout the incremental progress we are making to ensure a fair, equal and just world.”
Pacquiao is the only eight-division world champion to have won eleven world titles, and is also the first boxer to win the lineal championship in five different weight classes. Aside from the boxing, Pacquiao has been active in politics. In June 2016, he was elected as a senator and will serve a six-year term until 2022. His rising political career, has meant that he is considered a top contender for the presidential election in the Philippines in 2022, with incumbent president, Rodrigo Duerte, announcing in December 2016 and December 2017 that he intends to make Pacquiao his successor.