Manny Pacquiao leaps from Sgt. to ‘doctor’ to Lt. Colonel
Master sergeant Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, the Philippine Army’s most popular reservist, has been promoted to lieutenant colonel.
The Army announced Friday that Pacquiao, a world boxing champion and a legislator representing Sarangani, now carries the rank of lieutenant colonel, effective last Sept. 21 when Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. approved Pacquiao’s promotion in the Armed Forces of the Philippines reserve force.
Pacquiao previously held the rank of senior master sergeant, the highest post possible for a military reservist who does not have a college degree.
The law states that elected and appointed officials can be commissioned as officers in the service if they are degree holders.
Acting Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said the military establishment considered Pacquiao’s honorary doctorate degree in humanities from the Southwestern University in Cebu City in 2009.
The Army recommended that “Dr. Pacquiao” be promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel shortly after his latest ring victory, defending his World Boxing Organization welterweight belt against American challenger Shane Mosley on May 7.
Pacquiao’s nomination passed through the military and defense bureaucracy within months.
He surpassed in rank Sen. Vicente Sotto who holds the rank of major in the reserve command of the defunct Philippine Constabulary.
Among incumbent elected officials, Pacquiao has equaled in rank Senators Manuel Villar and Loren Legarda; fellow Representatives Ruy Lopez (Davao Del Sur), Rosendo Labadlabad (Zamboanga Del Norte, 2nd district), Almario Mayo (Davao Oriental), Isidro Ungab (Davao City) and Marlene Agabas (Pangasinan, 3rd district); and Mayors Herbert Bautista (Quezon City) and Sara Duterte (Davao City).
Rising from the ranks
The highest ranked military reservists who hold the rank of colonel are Vice President Jejomar Binay (Marines), former interior secretary Rafael Alunan (Army) and Air21 president Bert Lina (Army).
Former officials who hold the rank of lieutenant colonel include ex-senators Richard Gordon and Luisa “Loi” Ejercito and ex-defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.
Army records showed Pacquiao rose from the rank of sergeant to colonel in five years, during which time he was given numerous awards and recognition by the military after every successful fight on his way to win a record 10 world titles in eight weight divisions.
He was enlisted as an Army reservist on April 27, 2006, with the rank of sergeant. Within that year, he was promoted to technical sergeant on Dec. 1.
The following year on Oct. 7, 2007, he was promoted to the rank of master sergeant, the highest rank among enlisted personnel, after defeating Mexican boxer Antonio Barrera.
Pacquiao was given the special rank of senior master sergeant on May 4, 2009, as a tribute for being the world’s leading pound-for-pound boxer.
After his victory over Mosley last May and having run out of awards to give, the Philippine Army last May 30 honored Pacquiao with a testimonial parade that is reserved only for top government and military officials and foreign dignitaries.
Not all generals are feted to a testimonial parade and review in their honor.
It was at that time that Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz disclosed that they were assessing whether they could promote Pacquiao to the rank of lieutenant colonel since he was a lawmaker—even if he had not graduated from college.
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