Manny Pacquiao’s Perplexing Legal Woes Continue to Dominate Headlines

| by Alex Groberman

Manny Pacquiao, one of the top two pound-for-pound boxers in the world, seems to hand out libel and defamation lawsuits like they’re Halloween candy.

There is nothing wrong with defending yourself and your good name in court, of course, but this sort of incessant need to make everything into an unnecessary legal battle is somewhat puzzling.

Back in 2009, Pacquiao famously brought legal action against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya for their role in trying to paint him as a performance enhancing drug (PED) user. The Filipino champion would eventually drop everyone besides Mayweather from the suit, but pressed on when it came to hassling his arch rival. The case was definitely proceeding through the end of 2011 and, while everyone has been quiet about it this year, seems to be alive and well in 2012 too.

A couple of weeks ago, Pacquiao found himself embroiled in a similar mess – this time involving a reporter. After Edwin Espejo reported that the champ was housing an alleged fugitive in an article for the Asian Correspondent and MindaNews, Pacquiao responded with a libel suit. The decision to bring charges against a reporter who, by all accounts followed necessary journalistic protocol while pursuing the story, has been met with understandable dissatisfaction from various groups.

Per ABS-CBN News:

The Center for International Law has called on Sarangani Rep. and boxing champion Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao to withdraw his P75-million libel suit against journalist Edwin Espejo.

In a statement, lawyer Romel Bagares said: “It would do well for Mr. Pacquiao in his job as a legislator to support calls for the decriminalization of libel in the country by recalling the suit he filed against Espejo.”

It would even be better if Pacquiao will support or file a bill to decriminalize libel laws, he added.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also urged Pacquiao to reconsider the case, saying his actions would become an example for politicians.

“It would be a shame if Pacquiao should risk his well-deserved reputation by succumbing to the same urge that has seen abusive official after abusive official resorting to our draconian criminal libel law — or even worse measures — to stifle reasonable criticism and critical coverage,” NUJP said.

Mind you, on top of the legal predicaments that Pacquiao willingly involves himself in, he’s also part of an ongoing messy situation with the Philippine government regarding his taxes. That whole ordeal is just getting started, and the champ’s seeming unwillingness to cooperate in the fashion that authorities are asking him too is making an even bigger problem out of everything.

Any which way you want to look at it, Pacquiao doesn’t have much longer left as a top-notch fighter. He’s made it clear on numerous occasions that he doesn’t plan to outstay his welcome in the sport that made him famous – so that means he has even less time remaining as boxing’s King of the Hill. Why is he wasting his time with these distractions? Wouldn’t he be better served dealing with what he has no choice but to deal with -- his tax case -- but letting all this other petty stuff go?

The answer to that would be a resounding yes. But if history has taught us anything – what Pacquiao should do and what Pacquiao will do are two vastly different things.

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