Boxing legend, who is also a politician and army reservist, visited camp in Southern Philippines
MANNY PACQUIAO has told soldiers fighting ISIS in the Philippines that he wants “to join you in the fighting”.
The boxing legend, who is also a Filipino politician and army reservist, made a visit to inspire troops who have been fighting an ISIS-backed Islamist insurgency in Marawi City for the last two months.
The five-weight world champion visited Camp Ranao in the Southern Philippines where, dressed in military fatigues, he attended a briefing with senior Army officials.
Manawi City, a 90minute flight from capital Manila, has had 400,000 residents displaced as insurgents, flying the black flag of ISIS, have put the city under siege, taking hostages and burning buildings.
The official death toll stands at 630 – 471 insurgents killed, 45 civilians and 114 soldiers.
In a speech to the troops Pacquiao, who is a serving senator in the government, sought to inspire those in camp.
According to Rappler, He joked: “I want to join you in the fighting, would you like that?
“Don’t surrender, because the same as in boxing, we’re in the last three rounds and it’s almost over.”
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With 400,000 citizens displaced, conditions in the country have come under an international microscope.
Those evacuated have reported terrible conditions in their temporary accommodation, while the extension of martial law in the city has attracted criticism in the international community.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of using the crisis as a way to impose greater authoritarian rule in the country.
He took time to hand out aid to the soldiers, as well as chat with them and take pictures.
Pacquiao added: “You are the real heroes, not Manny Pacquiao.
“I am just a boxer but you give your lives for our country.”
He later posted a prayer for the soldiers on social media: “Lord God, our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, we pray that you bless and protect our troops who are fighting in Marawi for our freedom.
“We pray that you give wisdom to those leading our troops and give each one of our soldiers courage as they fight in battle.
“We thank you for their sacrifice for our country.
“These men are the real heroes and we pray that you will shower your blessings upon them and their families.
“We thank you for our great country. Amen!”
The 38-year-old star remains one of the Philippines favourite sons.
He was made a lieutenant colonel in the army reserves, having first joined the force in 2006.
Pacquiao is yet to comment on his future in boxing, but the ageing star lost his welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn in a major upset last month.
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