MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine boxing star Manny Pacquiao, WBO world welterweight champion, scored a big political victory on Thursday when the elections commission declared he was among 12 new members of the upper house of Congress.
Last week, about 80 percent of 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots to choose a president, vice president, 12 senators, 200 members of the lower house of Congress and 18,000 local officials in general elections held every six years.
“I can focus and discipline myself, the way I did in boxing to help the nation,” Pacquiao told reporters, saying, as a new senator, he would push for free education at all levels.
The 37 year-old two-term congressman also said he favors restoring the death penalty for drug-related and other serious crimes.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has said he will ask Congress to re-introduce a death penalty that was repealed in 2006.
“In the eyes of God, it is not unlawful,” Pacquiao said of capital punishment.
The former eight-division world boxing champion, who stood as a member of one of the losing presidential candidates, won more than 16 million votes to come in seventh place for 12 vacant seats in the upper house of Congress.
Opinion polls showed Pacquiao was among the top choices for a senate seat but he dropped a few notches down in the polls after he made an anti-gay remark in February.
A month before elections, his ratings improved after a convincing victory over American champion Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, knocking him down twice in the 12-round bout.
Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robert Birsel