By Arne K. Lang
Walden Bello, a candidate for one of the 12 open Senate seats in the May 9 Filipino elections, has called upon the Philippine Parliament to disqualify senatorial candidate Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao if he goes ahead with his April 9 fight with Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Bello contends that holding the fight so close to the elections violates the Fair Elections Act which is designed to see that no candidate has an unfair advantage in television and radio exposure. By law, each candidate is limited to 120 minutes of air time.
Pacquiao is currently a congressman representing his wife’s impoverished Sarangani province. He is one of 292 congressmen in the lower house. They represent local districts. Senatorial elections are national. Twelve of the 24 seats are up for grabs on May 9. Historically the path to the presidency runs through the Senate.
Polls indicated that “Pac-Man” was likely to claim one of the open seats. However, the most recent polls were taken before Pacquiao caused an international firestorm with his response to a question about same-sex marriage.
Although it’s pure speculation on our part, we surmise that the honchos at the MGM Grand would prefer that the event is cancelled, or at least moved elsewhere. The MGM Grand is the flagship property of MGM Resorts International which controls multiple casino-hotels on the Las Vegas Strip and has properties in New Jersey, Mississippi, Michigan, and soon-to-be-opened casinos in Maryland and Massachusetts.
In the last few years, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has made a concerted effort to attract more visitors from the LBGT community. The Tropicana Hotel and Casino now promotes itself as “Your Favorite Gay Friendly Las Vegas Hotel.” Ironically, the Tropicana sits directly across from the MGM Grand.
If the Pacquiao-Bradley fight goes forward, there will inevitably be picketers. This won’t be a new experience for the MGM Grand. Women protested some of Mike Tyson’s comeback fights held there on the grounds that the promotions were a slap in the face to those working to stem an epidemic of domestic abuse. MGM forced those picketers to conduct their demonstration on the Tropicana Avenue side of the building, off the Strip. A far larger and potentially more vocal contingent of picketers can be expected at the April 9 boxing show.
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