MANILA — Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao is mourning the death on Tuesday of Anthony Villanueva, the first Filipino Olympic silver medalist.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Pacquiao offered his deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Villanueva.
Reports said Villanueva, 69, had been bedridden for more than two years before after suffering several heart attacks in recent years.
As a boxer himself, Pacquiao said the death of Villanueva is a great loss to the whole nation. The fighting congressman added the country lost a great athlete.
He said the boxing hero’s contribution to the sport could not be measured by any award or recognition. He added that Filipino boxers owe Villanueva a lot.
“Villanueva paved the way for the next generations of Filipino boxers to be recognized in international arenas,” Pacquiao said.
Villanueva, the son of 1932 Olympics bronze medalist Jose Villanueva, competed at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a featherweight. He was close to winning the gold medal but suffered a controversial split decision loss to Soviet Union’s Stanislav Stepashkin in the finals.
Pacquiao hailed Villanueva as the original Filipino boxing icon who should never be forgotten by the nation.
“My family will continue to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Villanueva,” he said.