LANGKAWI ISLAND, Malaysia - While most Filipinos are concerned about Manny Pacquiao winning over Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their epic boxing bout on May 3, President Aquino said he was more worried about the health of the boxer-turned-politician.
"Isn't it nice (if) you're the one who'll say (to Pacquiao), it's enough? You have earned and saved money. You should be able to enjoy it. Enjoy your family. Enjoy each other," Aquino said.
He added: "(Pacquiao) is entitled, after all his sacrifices and the example that he's made, to enjoy the fruits of all his hard work and labour."
The President said he had not watched Muhammad Ali fight at the peak of his career but that he was still impressed with the latter's boxing skills.
"And then now you see him in such a condition. Didn't anyone ever tell him, 'You've done enough?'" he added.
President Aquino said he might try to catch the delayed telecast of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, "after 10 people (would have) texted me that (Pacquiao) had won."
Aquino said his unsolicited advice as a Filipino who admires Pacquiao was: "You've done so much. Don't put yourself (through) unnecessary risks. (Let this May 3 fight) be the crowning glory (of your career)."
"I'm very confident that (Pacquiao) will do our countrymen proud as he has always done. (But) I go back to my perpetual message, which is, continued fighting in the ring does not promote good health," said the Chief Executive, whose own health has been in constant public scrutiny because of his chain-smoking habit.
Aquino told reporters here he wants Pacquiao to be able to enjoy the fruits of his hard work on the canvass and to have quality time with his family, instead of exposing himself to "unnecessary risks."
The President said he was thinking of the side effects of boxing, a contact sport that may have led to Parkinson's disease among some of its players, including boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The ailment has been linked to trauma injuries to the head.
"(Pacquiao) has already done so much for our country and perhaps we should be the ones to show concern for him, instead of brainwashing him until…" the President said, without completing his sentence.