More relatives of Philippines' Pacquiao get into politics

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines - Philippine boxing hero-turned-congressman Manny Pacquiao had three more relatives elected to public office Tuesday, but a representative for the star downplayed suggestions he was creating his own "political dynasty".

The Commission on Elections said that two of the boxing superstar's brothers, along with a sister-in-law, won village council seats in their home city of General Santos in the country's south.

Rogelio and Bobby Pacquiao were elected councillors in separate districts of the city in polls held Monday, while Bobby's wife, Lorelei, won re-election as village chief.

Although villages are the smallest government units, seats are hotly contested and considered the first step in building a crucial grass-roots network for politicians aspiring to higher office.

It is common practice among Filipino politicians to have their relatives also run for office to put a "dynasty" in place in the hope of expanding their influence and keeping them in power.

The 34-year-old Manny Pacquiao, who recently expressed hopes of becoming president, has used the fame and riches generated from his boxing to launch a successful political career.

The high school drop-out won a seat representing the impoverished southern province of Sarangani in 2010, and was re-elected unopposed in May.

His wife Jinkee was elected vice-governor of Sarangani, also in May.

The boxing hero's chief of staff, Franklin Gacal denied that Pacquiao was trying to install his own political dynasty.

"Barangay (district) elections are non-partisan (and are) premised on 'bayanihan' spirit, a Filipino custom of helping one another in your community," he said in a statement.

Manny Pacquiao was widely criticised after he said in July that he hoped to run for president.

Critics said he appeared ignorant of the law which sets 40 the minimum age for a presidential candidate, making Pacquiao too young for the next elections in 2016. Political analysts also said his skimpy record as a law-maker did not improve his chances for the presidency.

The boxer later clarified that he was aware of the minimum age limit and had no plans to run for the presidency in 2016.

Detractors have also said that Pacquiao's political ambitions have distracted him from boxing, leading to consecutive defeats to Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez last December and American Timothy Bradley in June.

He is now training furiously to redeem himself when he meets American Brandon Rios in Macau next month.