I HAD a chance to talk briefly with a colleague last week but the brief chat was enlightening because he raised a point that I myself have overlooked.
We were talking about the plan by senator-boxer Manny Pacquiao to put up a new commission that will oversee professional boxing and mixed martial arts in the country, stripping the function from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) which, for the first time in recent memory, has become an effective and proactive agency.
I pointed out that it isn’t necessary to which he agreed but he added an interesting point. Should Pacquiao prevail in his plans, then it is a given that his recommended personnel may lead the new agency, creating a potential conflict of interest.
Pacquiao, we have overlooked, owns Manny Pacquiao promotions and isn’t it curious that he is hoping to create a new commission that will oversee an industry that he is a part of? This is not to say, of course, that that is Pacquiao’s ultimate goal. I happen to believe that the senator is sincere in his move to make the country the “boxing and combat sports” capital of Asia.
I just don’t agree that creating the new commission is the way to go about it.
GAB, as I have said, has changed. It’s still not perfect but it is a far cry from when it was accused of human trafficking and boxers ended up as modern slaves down under? That was just a few years ago and the Australian media even picked on that story. The late Ronnie Nathanielsz, himself not a fan of that version of GAB, even revealed that a girlfriend of a promoter managed to get a visa as a boxer.
And perhaps it is stories like those that prodded Senator Pacquiao to create a new agency but I think empowering the current GAB would be a better option. I mean, if you take boxing and combat sports away from GAB, what you’d have are two different agencies overseeing professional sports. That’s like creating a new overseas workers agency to oversee seafarers and nurses, while leaving the current agency to handle the rest.
This is Manny’s second attempt at creating a bill; the first one was in 2018. I hope that common sense prevails again and that Manny, instead of creating a new agency, will instead look at ways to help improve GAB.