What sealed the vote of Rep. Manny Pacquiao against the reproductive health (RH) bill could be traced to that thunderous right hand that knocked him out cold in Las Vegas three days earlier.
Pacquiao recalled his stunning loss to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in explaining why he was sticking to his “prolife” position and thus, voting against passing House Bill No. 4244 on second reading.
“What happened in Vegas strengthened my already firm belief in the sanctity of life,” he said on the floor amid nominal voting on the measure at around midnight. “Manny Pacquiao is prolife. Manny Pacquiao votes ‘no’ to House Bill No. 4244.”
The vote settled questions about his support for the RH bill after he left the Catholic faith and joined an evangelical group.
The supposed switch was a hot topic among fans, who were wondering why he lost. For his fourth bout with Marquez, Pacquiao was no longer wearing a rosary and making the sign of the cross, gestures that expressed his Catholicism in the past.
So, going into the crucial voting on the RH bill, the question was: Would Pacquiao now embrace the predominant position among many Protestant groups in support of HB 4244?
In explaining his vote, Pacquiao admitted that there were some people who were “still” trying to convince him to change his mind on the RH bill.
“Mr. Speaker, my fellow congressmen, especially to those who still tried to convince me to change my mind,” he said, drawing laughter among his colleagues on the floor.
“My countrymen, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your prayers and support during my last fight in Las Vegas,” he continued, prompting a 15-second standing ovation among lawmakers and prolife groups in the gallery.
Some pro-RH lobbyists clad in purple shirts were heard jeering him for bringing up the Las Vegas incident, mocking his thick Visayan accent as well.
“In the dying seconds of the sixth round of my fight against Marquez, a single punch knocked me out. For more than two minutes, I was lying unconscious, motionless. My wife cried … my friends and fans cried when they saw me not moving at all. Some thought I was dead. They thought another life had been lost,” he recalled.
“What happened in Vegas strengthened my already firm belief in the sanctity of life, on whether a person’s right to live in this world should be put in the hands of his fellow man. Only God has the right over this,” he added.
His face still ashen and with a dark ring around an eye, Pacquiao was seen arriving on the floor shortly before midnight. He was immediately greeted by colleagues, both from the pro- and anti-RH blocs.
Pacquiao stayed on until his name was called during the nominal voting. Like many of his colleagues, he took the opportunity to explain his vote for a maximum of three minutes.
Originally posted at 10:55 pm | Thursday, December 13, 2012