(Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Manny Pacquiao, 33-year-old Filipino boxer, may be getting taken advantage of by religious leaders in his home country.
Pacquiao, a congressman and boxer who recently made headlines after the boxing world became outraged with his first loss in seven years to Timothy Bradley, seems to have acquired a following of preachers who have allegedly been receiving gifts from the pugilist. According to a Cebu Daily News report, Pacquiao has been attracting the attention of preachers across different nominations for the wrong reasons.
A source told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that a group of 10 pastors have joined in asking Pacquiao for tickets to his boxing matches and money, and have received gifts from the pugilist.
"They are making our boxing idol a milking cow. The real Manny Pacquiao doesn't know how to say no," the source said. "But if they are real disciples of God, they should be ashamed of what they are doing."
Pacquiao's following reportedly started when he began holding daily Bible studies with his supporters following a November 2011 bout against Juan Marquez. However, the source said things have gotten out of hand recently, and recalled one pastor asking for 36 tickets to Pacquiao's fight along with eight hotel rooms.
"I was the one so ashamed when he asked Manny Pacquiao to get eight hotel rooms for his family in the US," the source said. "Before, we were expecting that these pastors would help or guide Manny Pacquiao towards the path of salvation. We didn't expect that they would abuse his kindness and generosity."
The Inquirer reported that some of the pastors surrounding Pacquiao's camp have been seen with Louis Vuitton designer handbags. The source called for pastors to end their solicitation of expensive items since there were poor people in need.
"The poor people are more deserving to receive such blessings," the source said. "I hope, one day, they would realize their mistake and that they would stop asking any kind of favor from Pacquiao."