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Cebu News

For comments vs LGBT: Nike drops Pacman

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Calling his comments on same-sex relationships ‘abhorrent and discriminatory,’ sportswear giant Nike has dropped Manny Pacquiao as one of its elite athlete endorsers, adding a further blow to the embattled Filipino sports hero who is facing what is yet his biggest fight outside of the ring.

“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao,” said Nike in an official statement.

The God-fearing Pacquiao has already apologized to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community regarding his anti-gay remarks that sparked a firestorm of criticisms when he told television station TV5 earlier this week that those in same-sex relationships were “worse than animals”.

“I’m sorry for comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” a remorseful Pacquiao said in a video post on Instagram.

However, Pacquiao, who has changed from his gambling and womanizing ways since his religious reawakening, stood by his opposition to same-sex marriage as it is against the teachings of his conservative Christian faith.

Pacquiao’s adverse comments drew flak here and abroad, with Nike terminating his contract as one of its superstar endorsers.

But just as he showed remorse to those whom he hurt, Pacquiao also humbled himself after receiving a crushing blow from the world’s leading sports apparel company.

“Kung ano man ‘yung decision nila, desisyon nila ‘yon, nirerespeto ko at saka ang pag-sponsor nila sa akin, ‘yong mga damit lang naman para sa fight,” said Pacquiao in a report by Jay Dayupay of ABS-CBN News.

Pacquiao added that his camp is now looking for a possible sponsor to provide him with apparel and other sports gear.

This recent controversy somehow took its toll on his training —at least for a day, while some quarters foresee that it will greatly affect his senatorial bid in the coming May elections.

Pacquiao is currently training in General Santos City with Freddie Roach in preparation for his third bout with Tim Bradley set on April 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Yesterday, veteran sports reporter Eddie Alinea reported on Philboxing.com that the eight-division world champion took a day off from training. Alinea said Roach cancelled their Wednesday’s training session to give Pacquiao the needed rest two months after pitching camp in Gensan.

Giving Pacquiao time to rest only two days after a tough grind in the gym is something unusual for Roach. Or the Hall of Fame trainer is just sympathetic to his prized ward who has a lot to think and ponder on in these trying times.

Meanwhile, Mandaue City treasurer and LGBT rights advocate Regal Oliva yesterday said the country does need a leader like Pacquaio.

“I hope that we will not have a leader like this,” said Oliva referring to Pacquiao, a candidate for senator in the May 9 elections.

Oliva’s statement came following Pacquiao’s description of the LGBT as no better than animals.

“We can’t be complacent with the leaders we will be voting,” he said.

He said personally he and the rest of the LGBT were “hurt” and “in so much pain” at Pacquiao for calling them animals.

“I was angered. I did not choose (to be gay) and to compare us with the low-living animals, we are in pain,” he said.

He said he is also aware of the teachings of the Bible and to sum all of these can only mean one thing: love. However, what Pacquaio preached, he said, was hatred to the LGBT people, which is “so much against the Bible”.

He said that even if Pacquiao has already apologized, and although they have forgiven him, the words he uttered will not be easily forgotten.

He added if he had said it in their city, the LGBT community would have sued him for discrimination.

“We can sue him because that’s tantamount to discrimination,” he said.

The Mandaue City Council last week approved the LGBT Code which now makes discrimination against LGBT illegal.

Oliva clarified his statement on this issue was personal and not made as city treasurer. He also said they will not make any activities against Pacquiao’s senatorial bid, rather they will guide fellow LGBT in choosing candidates who have programs that benefit them. — with Liv G. Campo/BRP (FREEMAN)

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