Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao expressed shock Thursday at President Benigno Aquino’s claim that
Islamic militants had planned to kidnap Philippine boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao, the country’s president, Benigno Aquino said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said the kidnap gang led by Abu Sayyaf, a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and beheaded a Canadian hostage this week, had planned to abduct Pacquiao or his children.
But Pacquiao on Thursday expressed shock, saying that the plot should not have been made public.
Speaking at his residence in Manila, he said:
“I was alarmed when he announced… the Abu Sayyaf wanted to kidnap me. I’m surprised because all Filipinos are my friends. I love them, especially the Muslims,”
Pacquiao said he had responded to Aquino’s statement by taking security measures to protect himself as well as his wife and five children, who are in his hometown of General Santos.
“We added security for my family and me,” he said. General Santos is in the conflict-wracked southern Philippine region of Mindanao, where an array of Islamic militant groups are based and a separatist insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s.
The Abu Sayyaf’s main stronghold is about 400 kilometres (250 miles) away from General Santos. Pacquiao was in Manila, more than 1,000 kilometres north of General Santos, as part of his campaign to win a Senate seat in next month’s national elections.