Pac­quiao vis­its troops in Philip­pine war­zone

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Box­ing hero Manny Pac­quiao lifted the spir­its of Philip­pine troops in a visit yes­ter­day to a south­ern city where sol­diers have been bat­tling pro-Is­lamic State mil­i­tants for over two months. The box­er­turned-sen­a­tor, dressed in a mil­i­tary cam­ou­flage uni­form, joked that he would join the fight in the city of Marawi where mil­i­tants have been on a ram­page, hold­ing hostages and burn­ing build­ings while fly­ing the black IS flag.

“You are the real he­roes, not Manny Pac­quiao. I am just a boxer but you give your lives for our coun­try,” he told sol­diers in a camp in Marawi City. “Hope­fully, I can come back here and greet you again when the fight­ing is done and if it isn’t fin­ished when I come back, then I will be the one who will go over there,” said Pac­quiao, re­fer­ring to a bat­tle­ground out­side the camp where gun­shots and ex­plo­sions could be heard.

The fight­ing in the Min­danao re­gion has claimed 630 lives, in­clud­ing 471 mil­i­tants, 45 civil­ians and 114 govern­ment troops, the mil­i­tary has said. Pac­quiao, who was made a lieu­tenant colonel in the mil­i­tary re­serves in recog­ni­tion of his box­ing achieve­ments, re­mains a hugely pop­u­lar fig­ure in the Philip­pines. He rose from poverty to be­come a mil­lion­aire world box­ing cham­pion in an un­prece­dented eight weight di­vi­sions, us­ing his celebrity sta­tus as a spring­board to get elected to the pow­er­ful Philip­pine se­nate. But Pac­quiao’s star has dimmed in re­cent years, with the 38-year-old fighter los­ing his world wel­ter­weight ti­tle to Aus­tralian Jeff Horn in a ma­jor up­set last month. —AFP

MIN­DANAO: This hand­out from the Western Min­danao Com­mand (WESMINCOM) taken and re­leased yes­ter­day shows Filipino boxer Manny Pac­quiao (C) talk­ing to mem­bers of the me­dia dur­ing a visit to a mil­i­tary camp in Marawi on the south­ern is­land of Min­danao. —AFP

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