MANILA — With the historic bout of Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and American boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather just two days away, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it is standing by its idol all the way come fight day this May 3 (Philippine time).
In line with this, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Friday announced that the military will be providing live screening of the mega-fight in all major camps around the archipelago as part of its morale and welfare program for the soldiers.
At least 1,000 soldiers and their dependents are expected to watch the fight at the AFP Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City while wounded troopers who are currently recuperating from their battle injuries will cheer for their favorite boxer at the multi-purpose hall inside the AFP Medical Center.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Marine Brigade which is stationed in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan will provide not only free viewing but also meals for the soldiers and their family members.
“We are excited to see the blow by blow combat actions of our sports hero, Pacman. It is part of our ‘happy hour’ for my soldiers here,” 3rd Marine Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Armando Banez said.
He added that those who are stationed in Pagasa and islets that are guarded by the soldiers will not be able to watch the real-time match between two of the biggest names in the boxing world today.
“There are no live telecast available there but some can see the news reports through the Internet. Some of those who are assigned in remote islets will listen through radio,” he said.
All military personnel believe that “Pacman” will emerge victorious against Mayweather.
2nd Lt. Crismar Lapinig, 25, of the 10th Scout Ranger Company said that he had followed the Filipino boxing legend’s fights since he was a cadet at the Officer Candidate School some three years ago.
The former is among the 32 wounded soldiers from the AFP Medical Center’s Heroes’ Ward who will watch the fight.
“Definitely, I believe ‘Pacman’ will win this fight. All of us here at the Heroes’ Ward are excited to see him pummel Mayweather with ‘automatic gunfire’ like punches,” he said.
“I am very glad that the AFP has provided us free viewing right inside here at the hospital,” Lapinig, who was wounded while battling NPA bandits in Quezon, Bukidnon, stressed.
Col. Leoncio Cirunay, the Commander of the Army’s 801st Brigade based in Hinabangan, Samar believes that “Pacman” will win via knockout.
“I feel that ‘Pacman’ will floor Mayweather within six rounds because the People’s Champ is in top shape right now,” Cirunay, who had also prepared a free-viewing site for his soldiers and their dependents inside camp, said.
For his part, Catapang believes that Pacquiao will dominate the fight and come out as the winner through unanimous decision.
“I strongly believe that ‘Pacman’ will win this fight based on the judges’ scorecards. I will pray that he will bring him the glory for God, country and our people,” he said.
As this develops, Col. Melquiades Feliciano, 601st Infantry Brigade commander, said that his unit will continuously conduct joint law enforcement operations against the bandits during Pacquiao’s bout.
The latter unit is the one tasked to hunt and neutralize Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter bandits in Maguindanao,
“Those who were part of the security patrols will be out in the field to perform their job. Only those who are inside camp can have the opportunity to watch the live viewing here inside my headquarters in Shariff Aguak town,” Feliciano stressed.
While Col. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu head, said that his troops will relentlessly pursue the bandits inside their forest lairs despite the boxing legend’s fight.
“We will not abandon our mandate of protecting the people. On top of our continuous operations against the terrorists, my unit has partnered with AFPRESCOM (AFP Reserve Command) and OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) to conduct expanded medical mission and free concert here on May 2,” he added.
Pacquiao is known in the military as Lt. Colonel Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao (Res), Philippine Army, the executive officer of 1st Sarangani Infantry Battalion (Ready Reserve).
Pacquiao first entered the Army’s reserve force in April 27, 2006 as a sergeant and rose through the ranks through meritorious promotion.
He was appointed to his current rank in 2011 after satisfying the requirements for commissionship in the military.