After boxing legend Manny Pacquiao was officially promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Philippine army reserve force recently, many speculated as to whether the move was solely due to his legendary boxing status.
In an effort to quiet the rising tide of criticism over the promotion, officials came out on Monday and specifically explained that Pacquiao was getting a five-notch bump in the ranks due to his standing as an elected official.
Edwin Lacierda, a presidential spokesperson, noted that the Filipino champion was being afforded the same honor that any other elected official would be. That he didn’t receive the promotion as a result of his status as an international fighting icon but, rather, on pure and undeniable merit.
"For no other reason was he promoted. It was because of his position as a congressman, as a reservist. Because he is a congressman, he is entitled to the position of lieutenant colonel," Lacierda responded, when pressed on the matter by reporters.
"In so far as those ranks are concerned, if you occupy a certain rank whether you are an appointed or elected official, you are entitled to this particular rank in the reserve force," he added.
Voltaire Gazmin, the Defense Secretary, also did his part to put any rumors of cronyism to rest. He maintained that Pacquiao’s promotion came strictly on the basis of his elected office and merit, and that there was nothing out of the ordinary going on in the process.
"The promotion of Congressman Pacquiao went through all the necessary process," Gazmin in a statement issued Monday.
In a press release sent out by DND spokesperson Zozimo Paredes it was explained that as a result of his promotion, Pacquiao could now be summoned to active duty if the necessary situation were to present itself at any point.
"The reason why he is on the reserve force is that he is ready on call on emergencies or kung biglang magkagyera," Paredes said in a press briefing.
Pacquiao has remained more or less silent on the ruckus so far, letting everything play out at its own pace. While his promotion is capturing the headlines overseas, in America, his current legal and financial problems are dominating the news. To date, neither Pacquiao nor his promoter Bob Arum have come out and publicly commented on anything that’s gone on.
The Filipino champion is slated to square off against longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12.