ALABEL, Sarangani, Philippines?Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao has been declared winner of the congressional race in Sarangani province after the canvassing showed him trouncing his rival by almost 60,000 votes.
Pacquiao, who obtained 120,052 votes, was proclaimed representative of the lone district of Sarangani at midnight Thursday.
Pacquiao?s win is considered historic for ending the political dominance of one of the country?s oldest political families.
His opponent, Roy Chiongbian, is a scion of the Chiongbians who have been in power in the region for more than 30 years. Many politicians have attempted to challenge the Chiongbians? leadership in the past but failed.
In his remarks, Pacquiao extended a reconciliatory hand to his opponents, saying he wished to work with them for the good of the province.
?My victory did not end our quest, rather it marked the start of gigantic task to work for the improvement of the people?s lives,? he said in Filipino.
Pacquiao said he would concentrate on the campaign promises he made, which include the setting up of a provincial hospital.
Sarangani does not have a provincial hospital and sick indigents have to be taken to General Santos City, about an hour?s drive from this town, for treatment.
Pacquiao also said he would work for the establishment of livelihood programs for the poor, particularly the farmers and the fishermen.
He said his priority in Congress would be the passage of laws that would uplift the condition of athletes, protect and advance their interests.
He also pledged to help poor but deserving children to pursue an education.
?I could see in them how I struggled hard just to get to school. But because of poverty, my mother could not afford to send me to school,? said Pacquiao, who has said he had wanted to be a priest when he was young.
He said he would see what laws are still needed to help the poor in terms of education.
And if he fails to deliver on his promises during his three years in Congress, voters should reject him in the next elections, Pacquiao said.
?Help me also by monitoring my performance as a public official,? he said.
Roy, the youngest son of the late congressman James Chiongbian and former governor Priscilla Chiongbian, was gracious in defeat.
He called on all residents to rally behind Paquiao and other provincial officials.
He said the Chiongbians will support the newly elected officials?including Pacquiao-to make the province a safe and better place to live in.
Pacquiao?s mother, Dionisia, who celebrates her 61st birthday today, said her son?s victory was the greatest birthday gift she has received.
She said it will be a double celebration for the Pacquiao family.
Among the invited guests are Imelda Marcos, the widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and singer-politician Imelda Papin.