Boxing star Manny Pacquiao has defied any abduction threat and decided to continue with his senatorial campaign in the Philippines.
Thirty-seven-year-old Pacquiao had a few security escorts during his campaign in Laguna, south of Manila. There was no visible inhibition when he approached the villagers. He allowed them to shake his hands and take selfies with him.
Pacquiao is a congressman and one of wealthiest sports celebrities in the world. He is an eight-division champion and the Philippines’ most popular athlete. Since May 2010, Pacquiao has been representing the southern Sarangani province in the country’s House of Representatives. However, he is criticised for seldom showing up for legislative duties, reported Voice of America.
A voter preference survey ahead of the May 9 elections indicated that Pacquiao has a strong chance to win a seat in the senate.
After the reports of his abduction threat, Pacquiao said that the abduction report should have been given to him confidentially and not publicly. He said that although he has doubts about the report, he is not going to ignore it completely.
“I was alarmed when he announced … the Abu Sayyaf [militants] wanted to kidnap me. I’m surprised because all Filipinos are my friends. I love them, especially the Muslims,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Pacquiao. “If it came from an intelligence report, it should have been kept secret and need not be announced. And why just now? We have to study this,” he noted.
Manny Pacquiao further stated, “We asked for security, protection for my kids, my family to make sure they are safe, especially as I’m not there right now.”
President Benigno Aquino III had revealed the abduction plan of the Abu Sayaff group which is kidnapping people for ransom. He said that his sister and celebrity television presenter Kris Aquino and Pacquiao were both targeted by the terrorist cell which has pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Aquino also claimed that the group has also hatched a plan to launch a bombing operation in Manila.
Abu Sayaff has been abducting people and demanding ransom for their freedom. Most of these people are foreign nationals and in a propaganda video released by the group, many of these foreign nationals are requesting their respective countries to pay the ransom money, stating that they would be killed if the demanded ransom goes unpaid.
A Canadian national, John Ridsdel, was recently beheaded by the militant group as the country refused to pay the ransom and his family failed to raise sufficient funds despite the group’s lowered amount of ransom.