Pacquiao now richest lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing champion and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao scored another first by being the richest member of Congress.
“He is the first billionaire member of the House based on his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN),” Ricardo Bering, director of the House records management service, told reporters yesterday.
He said Pacquiao declared assets worth more than P1 billion.
The boxing champion faces Shane Mosley in Las Vegas this weekend in a fight that would earn him tens of millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of pesos more.
He has been mostly out of the country since before the Christmas season last year promoting and training for his match with Mosley.
Last week, US media reported that Pacquiao was the highest paid athlete in 2010, earning more than $32 million (P1.376 billion at P43 to the dollar).
Bering did not release Pacquiao’s SALN to the media, saying his office is still collating the assets, liabilities and net worth declarations of all the more than 280 House members before releasing them in a summarized form as was the practice in previous years.
Under the law, public officials had until last April 30 to file their SALN. In the last Congress, the Villars were the wealthiest members of Congress. Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and his wife, former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, declared a combined net worth of P947.9 million for 2009. The other richest House members in the 14th Congress and their net worth were Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, P477.3 million; Julio Ledesma IV of Negros Occidental, P447.5 million; Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of Ilocos Norte (now a senator), P315.5 million; Judy Syjuco of Iloilo, P288.5 million; Monica Prieto Teodoro of Tarlac, P231.3 million; Ferjenel Biron of Iloilo, P192.1 million; Glenda Ecleo of Dinagat Islands, P166.4 million; Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga, P158.5 million; Antonio Diaz of Zambales, P153.7 million; Danilo Suarez of Quezon, P151.7 million; Rodolfo Valencia of Mindoro Oriental, P150.5 million; Paul Daza of Northern Samar, P142.8 million; Carissa Coscolluela of the party-list group Buhay, P140.2 million; Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental, P138.5 million; Amado Bagatsing of Manila, P136 million; Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan, P116.6 million; Amelita Villarosa of Mindoro Occidental, P114.9 million; Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, P111.6 million; and Erwin Chiongbian of Sarangani, P102.8 million.
Then Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo declared a net worth of P102.2 million, while his brother Diosdado or Dato of Camarines Sur was worth P90.4 million.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has recently slapped a P73-million tax evasion charge against Mikey Arroyo and his wife Angela.
Mikey now represents security guards and tricycle drivers in the House. His mother, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has taken over his seat as representative of Pampanga’s second district.
The BIR has sought the SALN declarations of Dato Arroyo, Pacquiao and Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Villarica for evaluation.
BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares has told reporters that their scrutiny of the lawmakers’ wealth does not necessary mean that it would lead to the filing of charges against them.
One up for Mosley
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s opponent might have already won the hearts of Filipino dog lovers after he joined the advocacy against dogfighting.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that the 39-year-old Mosley has joined their campaign against dogfighting and has even agreed to come out in a 25-second public service announcement for television to speak about the advocacy.
In the advertisement, Mosley is seen inside a boxing ring alongside the words “I Choose to Fight. Dogs Don’t. Dogfighting Is for Cowards. Don’t Do it.”
“My opponents and I know that when we step into the ring, we choose to be there and that if we don’t come out on top, we can at least walk away. Dogfighting isn’t like that. Dogfighting is dirty, it’s cruel, and it’s a loser’s game,” he said in the commercial.
PETA hopes that through Mosley’s advertisement, Filipinos would be able to see the cruelty of dogfighting and stop the practice.
Dogfighting is illegal in the Philippines yet it continues to thrive and is kept hidden from public view.
The animals being groomed for the vicious blood sport are often kept in small cages or chained 24 hours a day.
“The worst punishment imaginable for social animals who need companionship and something interesting to do. To make them aggressive, dogfighters often starve, beat, and taunt them, and they use smaller animals (who are sometimes stolen from people’s yards) as bait,” the animal-rights group said in a statement.
PETA has seen dogs after they were forced to fight – they are left ripped apart, bloody, soaked in urine, unable to walk, and covered with cuts, bruises, and scars.
Their handlers often dispose of the “losers” of these fights. They are shot, drowned or burned alive.
The dogs that survive these fights often sustain serious injuries, such as broken bones and crushed cartilage. Many suffer and die from blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or days after a fight.
Mosley joins the list of athletes and other celebrities – including Tito Ortiz, Ron Artest, Michael Strahan, Mac Danzig, Carey Hart – who have teamed up with PETA to speak out against animal abuse. – Evelyn Macairan


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