Boxing icon and Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao is considering leaving the administration bloc in the House of Representatives following his row with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez of You Against Corruption and Poverty party-list, a friend of Pacquiao, made the disclosure Monday, a day after Pacquiao visited the victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Samar.
“Pacquiao has always been interested in joining us. That interest heightened when the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed a tax case against him,” Lopez, who like Pacquiao hails from General Santos City, said.
Pacquiao is a member of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a member of the majority bloc in the House led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. UNA is led by Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“He feels that the government is harassing him and that there’s politics in it,” Lopez added.
But Belmonte was unfazed.
“I will be unhappy if anybody leaves the majority coalition. I would hate to see him go, but if he leaves, I will respect his decision. With regards to his tax case, he just needs to show that he is a hero, not only in the boxing ring but also in complying with the law,” he said of Pacquiao.
“More than 90 percent of the people here are part of the majority coalition, so in the view of numbers, his impact is not very significant,” Belmonte added.
Pacquiao believes politics is the reason why the BIR is pressing him to pay P2.2 billion in alleged tax debts. He was outraged when the revenue agency froze his bank accounts a day after his victory over Brandon Rios late last month.
The ring idol spent Saturday night with typhoon survivors in Guiuan, Samar, where he also distributed cash, bibles and relief goods.
On Monday, Pacquiao attended the flag-raising ceremony in Tacloban City.
“We will fight and rise again,” he said in Filipino to his audience who flocked by the thousands just to see him.
“I will do everything to see to it that you (Tacloban City residents) will get back to your feet again,” he added.
Pacquiao also called on God to bless the city. He likened Tacloban’s ordeal to his harrowing losses to American challenger Timothy Bradley and Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez who defeated him in 2012.
But instead of sulking over this reversal, he said he gradually worked into contention eventually defeating Rios in Macau on November 24.
Pacquiao handed P2.5 million and tons of relief goods to the Tacloban City government for distribution to typhoon-affected residents. The money came from Saranggani province and charitable organizations.
“Tindog Tacloban (Rise Tacloban),” Pacquiao said three times before leaving for another relief run at the Tacloban City Convention Center.
With A report from PNA