MANILA - Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao says he is fed up with politics and has repeatedly considered quitting his job as senator.
"I feel dismayed, discouraged. I want to let go because I'm not used to politicking," Pacquiao told The Philippine Star earlier this week.
"I discovered that in politics, you wouldn't know what's real or not. People have many faces," he said, adding it was the first time he has gone on the record that he is frustrated with his political career.
He said he has so far only discussed his views with his wife Jinkee and some close friends.
He said educated people have been elected into office, and yet the lives of Filipinos have barely improved.
"What's important is someone who's true and sincere and truly feels for the poor. The rich know the country's problems but they can't really feel the plight of the poor. It's different if you really feel their problems," said Pacquiao, who experienced poverty when he was a struggling boxer in his hometown in General Santos.
Despite his dismal performance as a congressman, he was elected senator in national elections in 2016. His rags to riches story - the fishmonger who boxed his way to fame and fortune - simply tugs at so many voters' hearts.
The 38-year-old says he is still thinking whether to seek re-election in 2022, and is asking God for guidance.
Pacquiao said he feels for President Rodrigo Duterte, who the boxing superstar says is working hard and is sincere despite attacks from certain groups.
His American coach of 16 years Freddie Roach has been urging Pacquiao to hang up his gloves and focus on his political career.
"I have talked a lot about this lately with Manny about this having these dueling jobs as a boxer and as a legislator of his country, and both demand a lot of responsibility, dedication and also a lot of time," said Roach.
"I could not conceive seeing Pacquiao in a secondary position other than as a world champion."
Pacquiao lost his WBO world welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn in July in a highly controversial unanimous decision in Australia.
Roach says retirement was something he has discussed with Pacquiao, citing how he cannot bear the thought of seeing his prized pupil retire without a world title around his waist, reported GMA News.
Pacquiao's boxing career has been in decline since he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in one of the most-anticipated bouts in recent history in 2015.
"I think it's a good time for him to retire right now," Roach said to Fighthype, a website that covers boxing and MMA news.
"I kind of wish Manny Pacquiao would follow Cotto's lead and retire also. Being a professional boxer and a senator at the same time is very difficult. He still wants a couple of more fights. He's doing a good job as a senator right now, but not as a boxer."
Roach was referring to Puerto Rican professional boxer Miguel Cotto's decision to retire after his next fight.