by Charles Jay
For those boxing fans who think this reporter is going radically against the grain when it comes to getting all over Manny Pacquiao’s case because of his missing tax documents, there might be some surprising news coming out of the Philippines.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
Yes, Pacquiao is a national hero. He has gone farther than any other boxer, and probably any other athlete, in the history of this country of 92 people. He is more commercially successful than any other athlete in the nation’s history, not to mention (according to some surveys) any athlete in the world today.
He is revered by many as a quasi-saint, wearing his religious views on his sleeve. He is admired for the Bible readings he conducts at his home, and he is an elected official who, by all accounts, has a very optimistic future that may ultimately result in his ascension to the Malacañang, which is the Philippines’ answer to the White House.
Yet with all of that going for him, the “common people” out there still think that he needs to pay his taxes, and shouldn’t be treated any better than anyone else in that respect.
In a poll conducted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer that concluded about a month ago, the majority of people were of the opinion that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) was absolutely correct in pursuing Pacquiao in the ongoing tax case in which they are ordering him to turn over documents that are related to his 2010 returns.
There were over 5000 people who responded to the Inquirer poll. Of those, 51.7% felt that the BIR was right to go after the world champion. Only 16.1% of them felt that Pacquiao’s position that the BIR’s pursuit of him constituted harassment was correct. That would seem surprising, considering the level of popularity – and some say idolatry – Pacquiao has attained.
However, when you look at it from another perspective, maybe it’s not a shocker at all. Inquirer readers are not stupid; they probably know a story that’s a little suspect when they see one. And hero worship only goes so far; at some point people who are working hard to make ends meet reflect for a moment and have a hard time reconciling the idea that someone who seemingly has everything should be playing by different rules than they are, especially as he is an elected official who has, along with colleagues in the congress, has presided over certain components of tax policy.
For someone whose popularity is the currency that has enabled him to realize million of dollars in endorsements, not to mention election to political office, Pacquaio should have seen this as something of a wake-up call. After all, when one sees public opinion, even if it is based on a small random sampling, going against him, and positive opinion is coin of the realm, one should react.
Pacquiao’s reaction has been to continue to keep the BIR waiting.
How long will they continue to have patience?