By Francis T. Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) paid tribute to world boxing champion, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, in acknowledgment of his victory and outstanding achievements.
AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana awarded the AFP Meritorious Achievement Medal to Senator Pacquiao who is a Reserved Army Colonel. He was recognized for his triumphant defense of the WBA Welterweight World Title against American Adrien Broner last January 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also present in the ceremony were Lieutenant General Salvador Melchor Mison Jr, AFP Vice Chief of Staff; Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr., AFP Deputy Chief of Staff; and Brigadier General William Gonzales, Commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment.
In addition to the medal, the AFP also granted the Senator an honorary membership in the Philippine Army Scout Ranger. Becoming a scout ranger requires strong will, gallantry, and willingness to offer one’s life for the sake of mission accomplishment. The military leadership believes that the ‘Pambansang Kamao’ embodies all these characteristics.
“As a man of admirable strength and physical endurance, we in the AFP truly hold you, sir, in high esteem and regard for your accomplishments. Majority of the Filipino people look up to you as a source of inspiration: a living example of a man who rose up from the adversities of life through hard work and perseverance,” Madrigal said.
The eight-division World Champion was also accorded with a Manifesto Plaque. This is in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of sports, furtherance of the welfare of veterans and reservists, and for being an exemplary source of inspiration to the Filipino nation.
“We would like to thank you for through your efforts and support, legislations that are significant to the development of our nation’s security have been filed, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act or ‘Restoration of the ROTC Bill’ for grades 11 and 12 students,” General Madrigal said.
Prior to the ceremony at the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand, the AFP rendered arrival honors to the Senator at the General Headquarters Canopy. He then made a courtesy call to General Madrigal at the AFP Hall of Flags.
In December 2017, Senator Pacquiao was promoted to the rank of a full-fledged Colonel after finishing his General Staff Course. Prior to this, his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel was approved in September 2011 as recommended by Army Officials.
He first enlisted in the Army Reserve Force with the rank of Sergeant in 2006 with the recommendation of former AFP Chief of Staff, General Alexander Yano. He was then promoted to Technical Sergeant in the same year, rising through the ranks when he became a Master Sergeant in 2009.
AFP Public Affairs Chief Col. Noel Detoyato said it was only Friday that they were able to give honor to the country’s “Pambansang Kamao” due to his hectic schedule.
Last January 20 (Manila time), Pacquiao successfully defended his WBA welterweight championship crown against American Adrien Broner during their championship fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada last January.
“Ngayon lang nagkatugma ang mga schedule [It is only now that the schedule match],” he said.
Pacquiao’s match against Broner was his first fight in the US in two years. The match also reunited him with trainer Freddie Roach.
According to the 40-year old boxing champ, there are still plenty of fights left in him and he is willing to fight once again the already retired and unbeaten Floyd Mayweather.