Arroyo confers Order of Sikatuna to boxing champ Pacquiao

By Izah Morales


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MANILA, Philippines -- It?s now Datu Pacquiao.

Conferring the Order of Sikatuna to boxing champion Manny Pacquiao on Friday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the boxing champion deserved ?a special award? for the honor he has brought to the country and to the world.

?Nung nangyari iyong pampito mong championship, inisip natin kung ano pa ang pinakamataas na parangal sa ilalim ng saligang batas (When you won that seventh championship title, we thought about what is the highest award under the law we can confer on you),? Arroyo said after placing the red sash on Pacquiao carrying the distinctive insignia of the award.

Pacquiao will carry the rank of Datu.

Arroyo called on the stage Pacquiao?s wife, Jinky, who bussed the President three times.

The President said she choose to confer the award to Pacquiao at the Quirino Grandstand instead of giving it in Malacaang so that many people can witness it.

?Taongbayan ang nagbibigay niyan sa?yo. . . . Dito at least, pwede silang pumunta para maraming makakita na ikaw ay tumatanggap ng parangal(The people is giving this you. Here at least, they can come and witness you receiving this award),? she said before a crowd of about 2,000, as estimated by the police.

Arroyo and Pacquiao then went to the side of the stage to award certificates to recipients of assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Two years ago, Pacquiao was conferred Order of Lakandula with the rank of ?Champion for Life.?

Under Executive Order 236 or the Honors Code of the Philippines, the Order of Sikatuna is an ?Order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines, upon diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines, or upon personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), both in the Home Office and in the Foreign Service.?

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