The Islamic State has proclaimed Manny Pacquiao’s defeat an “act of Allah” in answer to their prayers for the demoralisation of Philippine soldiers.
The message from the unnamed IS operative also challenged the military to “bring all its soldiers against fighters in Marawi”, where Islamist militants continue to hold out in the face of aerial bombardment and fierce street-to-street fighting.
Legendary boxer turned national senator Manny Pacquaio was defeated by Australian Jeff Horn in the fight for the WBO Welterweight title in Brisbane this weekend.
The points decision of the ringside judges was in sharp contrast to the widespread view in the Philippines — and beyond — that the veteran had clearly got the better of the newcomer.
Horn landed just 15 per cent of his shots, compared to Manny’s 32 per cent — a total of 92 against 182.
Now, terrorism monitoring organisation, the SITE Intelligence Group, has revealed that IS is exploiting the widespread disappointment at the result to claim it as evidence of divine intervention in their favour.
A report on the site said: “A Filipino Islamic State (IS) operative challenged the Philippine army to bring all its soldiers against fighters in Marawi, and suggested that God answered the prayers of fighters to demoralize soldiers through Manny Pacquiao losing his boxing match.”
In the midst of the disappointment, presidential spokesman Ernest Abella released a statement today confirming that the Filipino people would continue to stand behind their number-one sporting star.
The statement said: “Manny Pacquiao’s loss in Brisbane would not diminish the honours he bestowed to the people and to the flag.
“Nothing will change: Senator Manny Pacquiao will remain our people’s champ, Pambansang Kamo and national treasure in global sports.
“Mabuhay ka, Manny! [Long live Manny!]”
In the elections last year, the boxer was elected as a senator representing the United Nationalist Alliance party and is now serving a six-year term in office.
In the senate chamber, the born-again pastor has often invoked his faith during debates. During a discussion on reinstating the death penalty, he said: “We’re talking the law of the land, which is approved by God and instituted by God. The government is instituted by God. Even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death by the government.”
A staunch ally of the president, he has also been a strong voice of support for the declaration of martial law across Mindanao, after the ongoing chaos erupted in Marawi City on May 23.
He said: “We need to be grateful because we have a firm, strong president who is fighting these problems. From my heart, I support the declaration of the president.”