Written by Staff Writer by By Marlena Baldacci, CNN
In a recent interview, boxing champion and politician Manny Pacquiao said he would jail all his current and former political supporters if he is elected president of the Philippines.
Pacquiao, 36, said the move would help stem corruption. He believes the same would happen if he is elected as president.
“Whatever’s illegal, I’m going to jail them,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening, before adding: “I don’t believe that political parties should allow their members or people in front of the political parties to engage in illegal activities.”
Pacquiao, whose political career began with the legislature in 2001, is seeking the presidency of the Philippines in the 2016 elections.
On Monday, Pacquiao sent a social media message ahead of the country’s annual Sun Pasion Day, an official holiday celebrating national unity, writing: “Trump or Clinton may not give a vote, but voting counts.”
Although Pacquiao is currently barred from filing his presidential credentials until next year, he’s starting his campaign right now.
Pacquiao wasn’t always regarded as the most popular person in the Philippines. He fell from his position as the world’s top-ranked pound-for-pound boxer, due in part to questions about his controversial presidential candidacy.
Pacquiao was accused of sexual impropriety as soon as he announced his presidential bid. The British tabloid The Sun accused him of taking undisclosed payments from Philippine conglomerate, Genting, during a Congressional hearing.
Genting denied the claim, but Pacquiao’s political career was irreparably damaged.
“My political opponent has clouded my good name,” he said in a statement. “He is just spreading something that should be so simple to remove.”
Pacquiao officially endorsed his opponent, Senator Grace Poe, earlier this month.
President Benigno Aquino, in a January radio address, said that unless Pacquiao cleans up his campaign, he won’t receive much “one-on-one support from the entire coalition” of voters who support him.
Top diplomats will travel to the Philippines this week to meet with Trump, which could potentially shine a spotlight on Pacquiao’s candidacy.
But Pacquiao has not been happy with the international attention, and on Monday canceled a planned trip to a boxing event.
In his statement, Pacquiao explained the decision saying: “Due to an unexpected postponement of his trip to London, Manny opted to reschedule the press conference and reschedule his trip.”