Press Release
May 7, 2009

It's up to Pacquiao to come home or not -- Loren

Senator Loren Legarda said today that it is entirely up to boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to decide whether to stay for a while in Los Angeles or to immediately go home to the Philippines to his millions of adoring fans.

Loren issued the statement in the face of a veritable spat between Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Environment Secretary Lito Atienza over a request by the DOH for Pacquiao's entourage to consider a self-imposed quarantine.

The quarantine was proposed in the face of several cases of the swine flu virus being reported in the United States. Atienza had rejected the DOH proposal, saying Pacquaio must be allowed to come home in time for his victory celebration which had been reset just the same.

"As it is but a request by the Department of Health for Manny Pacquiao to stay in Los Angeles for a self-imposed quarantine, the decision rests solely on him whether or not to stay in Los Angeles or to come home to the Philippines.," said Loren.

"There's no need for cabinet officials to trade barbs over the matter because it only exposes the administration's lack of definitive policies on how to deal with the possibility of people coming to the Philippines from abroad while possibly being stricken with the swine flu virus." The senator stressed that the issue has nothing to do with victory parades being missed but of the Constitutionally guaranteed right of every Filipino to travel.

"Nonetheless, there should always be a balance between individual rights and the government mandate to ensure the safety and health of the general population," she said.

Pacquiao is coming off a superb round-two victory over Britain's Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Loren said both Duque and Atienza have valid points, but that they should be reconciled to ensure that government treats all fairly when it comes to the swine flu virus concern.

Atienza had argued that if thousands of Filipinos are being allowed to come home from the US but by first mandating them to pass thermal scanners at airports, then there's no reason why Pacquiao cannot do the same.

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