MANILA, APRIL 16, 2012 (GMA NEWS NETWORK) By KIMBERLY JANE TAN - With only a little over a year before the 2013 midterm elections, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao has decided to leave President Benigno Aquino III's Liberal Party to join Vice President Jejomar Binay's Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban).

In a text to GMA News Online on Monday, PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said the boxing champion will take his oath later in the day at 10 p.m.

"He likes our party ideology and platform. He made the decision weeks ago ‘ata," he said.

Pimentel added that Pacquiao will run for governor of Sarangani under their party in the 2013 elections.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino administration will respect Pacquiao's decision if he feels that he would be able to serve his constituents better with this move.

“Wherever he feels he will serve the interest of the people, we respect his decision,” he said.

Before joining the Liberal Party, Pacquiao was a member of the Nacionalista Party of defeated presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar.

Aquino is the chairman of LP.

Pacquiao’s move came days after PDP-Laban formed a coalition called the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) with former President Joseph Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

In the 2010 elections, Estrada ran for president while Binay ran for vice president under their previous coalition, United Opposition (UNO).

UNA will reportedly field Pimentel, former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, former senators Kit Tatad and Ernesto Maceda, and incumbent senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, and defeated senatorial bet Joey De Venecia in the 2013 senatorial elections.

Pimentel and Zubiri were bitter foes in an electoral dispute that eventually saw Pimentel assume Zubiri's Senate seat when the latter resigned last August.

UNA is also inviting former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, and Senators Gregorio Honasan and Alan Peter Cayetano to run under the coalition.

On the other hand, among those said to be possible candidates under LP in the 2013 senatorial race are House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, and Customs deputy commissioner Danilo Lim. - KBK/HS, GMA News


Pacquiao Ready for Baguio grind By Abac Cordero

MANILA, Philippines - Unless he is called by the President to Malacañang, Manny Pacquiao will take the five-hour drive to Baguio City today for the start of his heavy training.

“Bukas (tomorrow),” said Pacquiao when asked about the trip to the cool City of Pines where his chief trainer, Freddie Roach, has been anxiously waiting for him.

Pacquiao said he hasn’t spoken seriously to Roach, now training Amir Khan in Baguio, regarding their strategy for the June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley.

Based on the original plan, Pacquiao was to start his training in Baguio yesterday. But because of his tight schedule, he had to reschedule everything.

Pacquiao was to take his oath under the political party of Vice President Jejomar Binay last night, a move that could mean that things are no longer rosy between the boxing icon and the President.

Yesterday afternoon, Pacquiao showed up at the MP Tower in Manila, and worked out for two hours with Buboy Fernandez in the air-conditioned gym.

He pounded the mitts for eight rounds non-stop, and spent time with the heavy bag, speed ball and double-end bag. He did crunches at the center of the ring.

“Ayos ba (Okay?),” the reigning WBO welterweight champion asked a couple of scribes during a brief lull in training.

Pacquiao pounded the mitts so hard Fernandez’s hands shook the moment he took them off.

“Grabe. Hindi nawala ang lakas (He hasn’t lost the power),” said Fernandez, who also made sure Pacquiao was at the gym in General Santos City since last week.

Pacquiao had wanted for more time inside the ring, but it was Fernandez who insisted that they call it a day.

“Bugbog (Beat up),” said Pacquiao of Fernandez as he shadow-boxed along the ropes.

The narrow street leading to the gym was silent and practically empty until Pacquiao drove in aboard his black Navigator, with a police escort. Word spread quickly about his arrival.

In just a couple of minutes, his fans had gathered around the ring, and eagerly watched him train. They couldn’t help but clap as Pacquiao unleashed his powerful combinations.

Yes, Pacquiao looked sharp.

But certainly not as sharp as Roach wants him to be.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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