Philippines: Government wants people to emulate Manny Pacquiao's 'toughness' in drug war

Pacquiao has been a strong supporter of president Rodrigo Duterte's drug war

Manny Pacquiao
The 37-year-old won the WBO welterweight title on return to ring on Saturday Reuters

Philippines has urged its people to take cue from the "grit and courage" displayed by its boxers including Manny Pacquiao in their fight against drugs and criminals.

Pacquiao, who returned to the ring for the first time after coming out of retirement, defeated American pugilist Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision in Las Vegas to reclaim the WBO welterweight title on Saturday.

Quashing all the doubts about his ability to compete at the highest level after a seven-month hiatus, in which he was elected to the Philippines senate as well, the 37-year-old boxer came on top after a 12-round arduous battle against a younger fighter in Vargas.

On Sunday, Government of the Philippines, in an official statement posted on Facebook, congratulated Pacquiao and said his win gave Philippines a reason to cheer. It also urged the people to be as tough as its boxers in their war against the drug menace.

"Once again, Manny's triumph united and brought joy to our people and our nation. The discipline, the determination, and the hard work of our People's Champ are truly what make him a National Treasure in Global Sports," the statement read.

"The courage and grit displayed by our Filipino boxers in Las Vegas are the same qualities we must demonstrate as a nation to rid society of drugs, criminality and corruption.

"Government has been successfully waging a war on these fronts and we as a people – emulating our boxers' toughness against all odds -- must continue the strong gains as we battle towards victory."

Pacquiao has been a strong supporter of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been acting tough against illegal drug users in the country.

Pacquiao, in an interview with Reuters in September, admitted that he had taken unnamed drugs as a teenager and that the president did not know about his experience with drugs.

Notably, Duterte won the presidential election in May 2016 after promising that he would take strict action against illegal drug users in the country.

The 71-year-old has reportedly led a campaign to deal with people involved in narcotics trade, in which more than 3000 people have been killed. In September, Duterte even announced he would extend the drugs war to six more months to put an end to the problem.